Legalized marijuana plan gets cautious thumbs up from the Canadian Medical Association
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, December 13, 2016 8:23PM EST
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is giving high praise to the final report from Ottawa’s taskforce on legalized recreational marijuana.
The 106-page submission from a panel headed by former Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan calls for store-front and mail-order retail sales to be legalized for anyone over 18. It contains more than 80 recommendations, ranging from advertising and branding to youth access restrictions and plans to eliminate the illegal market.
“We think there is a lot to like from this report,” Dr. Jeff Blackmer, the association’s vice president of medical professionalism, told CTV News Channel on Tuesday.
“We think the taskforce really tried to consider a variety of different viewpoints … and come up with a series of recommendations that would really craft something that has a very robust public health approach.”
While the CMA was pleased to see considerable attention paid to public health, Dr. Blackmer is waiting for the smoke to clear around some of the nitty-gritty fine points.
“The report in many ways laid out some fairly high-level recommendations,” he said. “In order to achieve some of those we will need further details around the production and distribution systems.”
The CMA, which represents more than 83,000 Canadian medical professionals, was one of the thousands of stakeholders who weighed on Canada’s new legal weed policy framework. However, some of their key suggestions were not adopted.
Their 19-page submission recommended the legal age for marijuana consumption be set at 21, as well as a full ban on marketing and advertising.
One key focus for the CMA will be the potency and content rules, which could impact how doctors choose prescription drugs for patients and warn them about how they will react with recreational or prescribed marijuana.
“Just like there are some drugs that we prescribe that you would tell people not to drive (when taking). It may be the same for marijuana that has been prescribed for medical purposes. Even with that system, we don’t know what the levels are that people can consume, and what quantities, or what THC levels,” said Dr. Blackmer.
He’s calling for a full separation of the medical marijuana market if recreational weed is legalized to avoid confusion and competition.
Dr. Blackmer is also wary of rolling out recreational pot without the means to apply roadside tests to drivers. He believes Canadians are far more lax when it comes to using marijuana and getting behind the wheel compared to drinking and driving.
Last week, a study by The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found the number of drivers who reported using marijuana and driving doubled between 2010 and 2015.
“Until we have some of those details around what the driving test could look like, how we are going to measure blood levels and these types of things, we need to proceed very cautiously,” said Dr. Blackmer.