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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 106, Issue 8, pp e474–e476 | Cite as

A common public health-oriented policy framework for cannabis, alcohol and tobacco in Canada?

  • Maritt KirstEmail author
  • Kat Kolar
  • Michael Chaiton
  • Robert Schwartz
  • Brian Emerson
  • Elaine Hyshka
  • Rebecca Jesseman
  • Philippe Lucas
  • Robert Solomon
  • Gerald Thomas
Commentary
  • 2 Downloads

Abstract

Support for a public health approach to cannabis policy as an alternative to prohibition and criminalization is gaining momentum. Recent drug policy changes in the United States suggest growing political feasibility for legal regulation of cannabis in other North American jurisdictions. This commentary discusses the outcomes of an interdisciplinary policy meeting with Canadian experts and knowledge users in the area of substance use interventions. The meeting explored possibilities for applying cross-substance learning on policy interventions for alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, towards the goal of advancing a public health framework for reducing harms associated with substance use in Canada. The meeting also explored how the shift in approach to cannabis policy can provide an opportunity to explore potential changes in substance use policy more generally, especially in relation to tobacco and alcohol as legally regulated substances associated with a heavy burden of illness. Drawing from the contributions and debates arising from the policy meeting, this commentary identifies underlying principles and opportunities for learning from policy interventions across tobacco, alcohol and cannabis, as well as research gaps that need to be addressed before a public health framework can be effectively pursued across these substances.

Keywords

Drug laws illicit drugs cannabis tobacco alcohol drug legislation 

Résumé

L’appui à une démarche de santé publique à l’égard de la politique sur le cannabis, au lieu de l’interdiction et de la criminalisation, gagne du terrain. Les changements d’orientation récents aux États-Unis sur la question des drogues montrent qu’il est de plus en plus faisable sur le plan politique de réglementer le cannabis dans d’autres juridictions en Amérique du Nord. Notre commentaire porte sur les effets d’une réunion stratégique interdisciplinaire avec des spécialistes et des utilisateurs de connaissances canadiens du domaine des interventions liées à la consommation de substances. Dans cette réunion, on a exploré les possibilités d’appliquer les leçons d’interventions stratégiques portant sur diverses substances (alcool, tabac et cannabis) dans le but d’esquisser un cadre de santé publique pour réduire les méfaits associés à la consommation de substances au Canada. On a également déterminé que le fait de changer l’approche des politiques sur le cannabis pouvait être l’occasion d’envisager des changements dans les politiques sur la consommation de substances en général, surtout le tabac et l’alcool, qui sont des substances réglementées par la loi associées à un lourd fardeau de morbidité. Puisant dans les observations et les débats de cette réunion stratégique, notre commentaire cerne les principes sous-jacents et les occasions d’apprentissage découlant des interventions stratégiques sur le tabac, l’alcool et le cannabis, ainsi que les lacunes à combler par la recherche avant de pouvoir efficacement élaborer un cadre de santé publique pour toutes ces substances.

Mots Clés

contrôle drogues et stupéfiants drogues cannabis tabac alcool 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maritt Kirst
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kat Kolar
    • 2
  • Michael Chaiton
    • 3
  • Robert Schwartz
    • 3
  • Brian Emerson
    • 4
  • Elaine Hyshka
    • 5
  • Rebecca Jesseman
    • 6
  • Philippe Lucas
    • 7
  • Robert Solomon
    • 8
  • Gerald Thomas
    • 9
  1. 1.Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, Toronto Central Community Care Access CentreUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.British Columbia Ministry of HealthVictoriaCanada
  5. 5.School of Public HealthUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  6. 6.Canadian Centre on Substance AbuseOttawaCanada
  7. 7.Centre for Addictions Research of British ColumbiaVictoriaCanada
  8. 8.Faculty of LawUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  9. 9.Okanagan Research ConsultingSummerlandCanada

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