Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 109, Issue 5–6, pp 748–751 | Cite as

On the use of digital technologies to reduce the public health impacts of cannabis legalization in Canada

  • Wassim BedrouniEmail author


The imminent legalization of recreational cannabis represents a considerable public health challenge that requires proactive measures to ensure a responsible transition. The federal government recognizes the need for strict regulation to reduce cannabis-related health harms, notably among the youth. Additionally, the government plans to oversee a national public awareness campaign as part of a harm-reduction strategy. In light of the public health risks of cannabis legalization, this paper proposes the implementation of increasingly popular, evidence-based, preventive, and therapeutic digital interventions to minimize the harms of this policy among adolescents and young adults. These E-health interventions facilitate healthcare delivery, improve patient care, and overcome stigmatization, especially in the context of substance abuse. Therefore, we argue that a continuum of digital tools, including prevention programs, educational material, and therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing risky consumption of cannabis, should be embraced as part of a comprehensive public health strategy by the federal government in anticipation of legalization later this year.


Cannabis Prevention Internet-based Computer-based E-health Substance use 


La légalisation imminente du cannabis récréatif pose un défi considérable pour la santé publique, défi qui nécessite des mesures volontaristes pour que la transition se fasse sans heurts. Le gouvernement fédéral reconnaît le besoin d’une réglementation stricte pour réduire les méfaits du cannabis pour la santé, tout particulièrement chez les jeunes. De plus, le gouvernement entend coordonner une campagne d’information nationale dans le cadre d’une stratégie de réduction des méfaits. Compte tenu des risques de la légalisation du cannabis pour la santé publique, nous proposons ici la mise en œuvre d’interventions numériques préventives et thérapeutiques fondées sur les preuves pour réduire les méfaits de la politique envisagée pour les adolescents et les jeunes adultes. De plus en plus populaires, ces interventions cybersanitaires facilitent la prestation des soins de santé, améliorent les soins aux malades et désamorcent la stigmatisation, surtout dans le contexte des toxicomanies. En conséquence, nous faisons valoir qu’un continuum d’outils numériques incluant des programmes de prévention, du matériel pédagogique et des interventions thérapeutiques visant à réduire la consommation de cannabis à risque devraient faire partie de la stratégie de santé publique globale du gouvernement fédéral en prévision de la légalisation du cannabis cette année.


Cannabis Prévention par Internet Prévention assistée par ordinateur Cybersanté Consommation de substances 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


  1. A framework for the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Canada. Published December 13, 2016. Accessed 24 Sept 2017.
  2. Adlaf, E. M., & Paglia-Boak, A. (1977). Drug use among Ontario students. Detailed OSDUS Findings, 2005, 190–195.Google Scholar
  3. Bewick, B. M., Trusler, K., Barkham, M., Hill, A. J., Cahill, J., & Mulhern, B. (2008). The effectiveness of web-based interventions designed to decrease alcohol consumption — a systematic review. Prev MedPreventive Medicine, 47(1), 17–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Champion, K. E., Newton, N. C., Barrett, E. L., & Teesson, M. (2013). A systematic review of school-based alcohol and other drug prevention programs facilitated by computers or the Internet. Drug and Alcohol Review, 32(2), 115–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hustad, J. T., Barnett, N. P., Borsari, B., & Jackson, K. M. (2010). Web-based alcohol prevention for incoming college students: a randomized controlled trial. Addictive Behaviors, 35(3), 183–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kilmer, J. R., Hunt, S. B., Lee, C. M., & Neighbors, C. (2007). Marijuana use, risk perception, and consequences: is perceived risk congruent with reality? Addictive Behaviors, 32(12), 3026–3033.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis: the facts. Published May 30, 2017. Accessed 24 Sept 2017.
  8. Miech, R. A., Johnston, L., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J., & Patrick, M. E. (2015). Trends in use of marijuana and attitudes toward marijuana among youth before and after decriminalization: the case of California 2007–2013. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(4), 336–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Moore, M. J., Soderquist, J., & Werch, C. (2005). Feasibility and efficacy of a binge drinking prevention intervention for college students delivered via the Internet versus postal mail. Journal of American College Health, 54(1), 38–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Porath-Waller, A. J., Brown, J. E., Frigon, A. P., & Clark, H. (2013). What Canadian youth think about cannabis. Ottawa: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.Google Scholar
  11. Rusby, J. C., Westling, E., Crowley, R., & Light, J. M. (2018). Legalization of recreational marijuana and community sales policy in Oregon: impact on adolescent willingness and intent to use, parent use, and adolescent use. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 32(1), 84–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Schaub, M. P., Wenger, A., Berg, O., et al. (2015). A web-based self-help intervention with and without chat counseling to reduce cannabis use in problematic cannabis users: three-arm randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 17(10).Google Scholar
  13. Tait, R. J., Spijkerman, R., & Riper, H. (2013). Internet and computer based interventions for cannabis use: a meta-analysis. Drug and Alcohol Dependence., 133(2), 295–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. The Chief Public Health Officer’s report on the state of public health in Canada, 2014: public health in the future. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; 2014. Accessed 24 Sept 2017.
  15. Toward the legalization, regulation and restriction of access to marijuana: discussion paper. Published June 30, 2016. Accessed 24 Sept 2017.
  16. UNICEF Office of Research (2013). ‘Child well-being in rich countries: a comparative overview’, Innocenti Report Card 11, UNICEF Office of Research, Florence.Google Scholar
  17. Walton, M. A., Resko, S., Barry, K. L., et al. (2014). A randomized controlled trial testing the efficacy of a brief cannabis universal prevention program among adolescents in primary care. Addiction, 109(5), 786–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations