Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New study proposes public health guidelines to reduce the harms from cannabis use

23.09.2011
The most reliable way to avoid cannabis-related harms is to abstain from use

A new research study conducted by an international team of experts recommends a public health approach to cannabis - including evidence-based guidelines for lower-risk use - to reduce the health harms that result from the use of cannabis.

Led by CAMH scientist and CIHR/PHAC* Chair in Applied Public Health (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver) Dr. Benedikt Fischer, the study is being published in the September/October 2011 issue of the Canadian Journal of Public Health (CJPH).

More than one in ten Canadian adults, and about one in three young people aged 16-25, report using cannabis during the past year. Despite the prevalence and health risks associated with cannabis use, the study points out that Canada has not yet taken a public health approach to address its harms, as we have with alcohol, tobacco, and even injection drug use.

"A broad-based public health approach to cannabis use would include a prevention strategy for young people, risk reduction strategies for at-risk users, and better access to treatment for problem users," explains Dr. Fischer. His latest study addresses the risk reduction component, based on a comprehensive review of existent scientific data identifying the preeminent cannabis use patterns and practices leading to key health risks and harms. Based on this evidence, guidelines are offered on how to modify these practices and patterns at the user-level as a public health-oriented policy tool to reduce the harms.

"Misinformation about cannabis can be dangerous," Dr. Fischer explained. For example, surveys show that many young cannabis users believe that it is safe to drive after using cannabis, whereas recent research in Canada shows that a significant number of traffic fatalities in young adults are attributable to cannabis use. "This resembles the situation forty years ago, when the majority of Canadians still believed it was safe to drink and drive," said Dr. Fischer.

"Cannabis is not a benign drug." Dr. Fischer continued. "The evidence linking patterns of use and problems is strong. We can use this evidence to provide straightforward, factual information to cannabis users and their families, friends or peers, on how to reduce the risks for problems, and to create screening tools for health professionals to help address the risks."

Some of the harmful practices and patterns of use documented in the study include:

Cannabis use at a young age – Longitudinal studies suggest that using cannabis from a young age can be associated with a number of problems, including mental illness and dependence. While most cannabis users will not progress to other illicit substance use, those who use cannabis from a young age are far more likely to make this transition.

Frequent use - Using cannabis often, usually defined as daily or near-daily use, has been linked to a variety of health problems, including cognitive and memory performance, or risk for dependence.

Cannabis use before driving - Recent data suggests that approximately five percent of Canadian adult drivers report driving after cannabis use in the past year, and high school student surveys show that more students drive after cannabis use than after drinking alcohol. It is recommended that anyone using cannabis should not drive for three to four hours after consumption.

Cannabis use during pregnancy - While the possible consequences of cannabis use during pregnancy have not been reliably distinguished from the potentially confounding impact of alcohol and tobacco use, there is sufficient scientific basis to recommend abstinence from cannabis use during pregnancy.

"A key message is that the most reliable way to avoid cannabis-related harms is to abstain from use," said Dr. Fischer. "Those who do use cannabis need to be advised about patterns of use to avoid problems in the short and long run. Our guidelines are meant to target the most dangerous patterns of use among those citizens who use cannabis, and therefore reduce the possible health problem consequences of such use."

Using scientific evidence to provide guidelines on practices or patterns of use that substantially reduce the risks of acute and long-term harms is analogous to the 'Low Risk Drinking Guidelines' for alcohol, which were first introduced in the 1990s. "Given the prevalence and age distribution of cannabis use in Canada, a public health approach to cannabis use - including prevention strategies for young people, risk reduction, and access to treatment - is overdue," Dr. Fischer stated.

The Canadian Public Health Association endorses the Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines. "The next step is for health and education authorities and the wider community to begin discussion of the evidence-based guidelines, and how this information could best be conveyed to key target groups in the context of a broad-based public health approach," Dr. Fischer said.

*"CIHR/PHAC" refers to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research/Public Health Agency of Canada

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development, prevention and health promotion to transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.

CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.

Michael Torres | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.camh.net

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>