Learn from U.S.: Ad­dic­tions ex­pert

Data on the ef­fects of pot le­gal­iza­tion is scarce, cru­cial

Metro Canada (Winnipeg) - - METRO NEWS -

The new fed­eral gov­ern­ment should pro­ceed slowly with chang­ing the coun­try’s drug laws, says the Cana­dian Cen­tre on Sub­stance Abuse, which has re­leased a re­port on the U.S.’s ex­pe­ri­ence le­gal­iz­ing cannabis.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives with the cen­tre, which is funded by Health Canada, met with of­fi­cials from the two U.S. states to le­gal­ize pot for per­sonal use — Colorado and Wash­ing­ton — to learn about what mis­takes to avoid.

Re­becca Jesse­man, se­nior ad­viser for the cen­tre, said in an in­ter­view the Cana­dian ad­dic­tion ex­perts were given one key mes­sage dur­ing their visit south of the border: Take your time.

“They said to start in­cre­men­tally and don’t move too quickly,” on mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion, she said. “And make sure your de­ci­sions and your ac­tions are in­formed by the best pos­si­ble ev­i­dence avail­able be­cause there are go­ing to be unan­tic­i­pated con­se­quences.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the sub­stance abuse cen­tre, as well as other Cana­dian health ex­perts and mem­bers of the RCMP, met with U.S. reg­u­la­tors, law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials, mar­i­juana pro­duc­ers as well as ad­vo­cates for and against le­gal­iza­tion.

Jesse­man said it was im­por­tant to go on the fact-find­ing mis­sion be­cause there isn’t a lot re­li­able data on the Amer­i­can le­gal­iza­tion ex­pe­ri­ence and “wait­ing for sci­en­tific pub­li­ca­tions can take years.”

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said dur­ing the re­cent elec­tion cam­paign he wanted to le­gal­ize mar­i­juana in or­der to re­strict its ac­cess to chil­dren, re­duce the drug mar­ket share of or­ga­nized crim­i­nals and lessen the bur­den on the coun­try’s jus­tice sys­tem.

Jesse­man said those three points are a good place to start, but she added Trudeau needs to direct his gov­ern­ment to be­gin col­lect­ing drug-re­lated data im­me­di­ately.

She said in or­der for the gov­ern­ment to mon­i­tor the suc­cess or fail­ure of poli­cies, the coun­try needs bet­ter base­line data on cur­rent drug habits in or­der to com­pare the fig­ures with data col­lected af­ter mar­i­juana is le­gal­ized.

“There are ques­tions that Colo- rado and Wash­ing­ton can’t an­swer be­cause there wasn’t any base­line data,” Jesse­man said. “The greater the ex­tent of work that can be done in ad­vance the bet­ter.”

the greater the ex­tent of (re­search) that can be done in ad­vance the bet­ter. re­becca Jesse­man

SeTh Perl­mAn/The CAnA­DIAn PreSS/The AS­So­CI­ATeD PreSS

The new fed­eral gov­ern­ment should pro­ceed slowly with chang­ing the coun­try’s drug

laws, says the Cana­dian Cen­tre on Sub­stance Abuse, which has re­leased a re­port on the U.S.’s ex­pe­ri­ence le­gal­iz­ing cannabis.

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