—Ottawa, ON, October 17, 2018—
In light of today’s legalization of marijuana on October 17, 2018, the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) wants to remind Canadian consumers to consider the mental health implications of recreational cannabis use on youth and young adults.
The Cannabis Act will allow Canadians, who are 18 or 19 years of age or older (depending on the province or territory), to legally purchase limited amounts of fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis seeds or cannabis plants from authorized retailers.
The CPA underscores the need for caution in allowing access to cannabis for those under age 25 in its 2017 position statement, Implications of Cannabis Legalization on Youth and Young Adults.
“There is a strong evidence-base showing that early and regular cannabis use can affect cognition, such as memory, attention, intelligence and the ability to process thoughts and experiences,” said CPA president, Dr. Wei-Yi Song. “It can also increase the risk of developing a primary psychotic disorder as well as other mental health issues such as depression in those who are already vulnerable to these disorders.”
Research shows that the human brain continues to develop until around the age of 25, therefore psychiatrists are concerned that the regular use of cannabis prior to that age may negatively affect the brain’s healthy maturation process.
For this reason, the CPA recommended in its position statement, and as a witness before the Senate Committee studying the bill, that Canadians should not be legally allowed to use marijuana until the age of 21, and that legislation should restrict the quantity and potency of the drug until they are 25.
“Cannabis with high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content can increase the risk of psychosis, including lowering the age of onset and worsening the outcomes in those already diagnosed with psychosis,” said Dr. Phil Tibbo, lead author of the statement and member of the CPA’s Research Committee. Dr. Tibbo is also head of the Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Program.
The statement is supported by the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry, the Canadian Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and the Canadian Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine.
“The legalization of cannabis is now here and we need to be ready for its potential impact on the mental health of our youth,” said Dr. Song. “The CPA is willing and prepared to work with the government on critical components of the legislation related to research, public education, and harm reduction.”
Read CPA’s position statement, Implications of Cannabis Legalization on Youth and Young Adults, at:
The Canadian Psychiatric Association is the national voice for Canada’s 4,700 psychiatrists and more than 900 psychiatric residents. Founded in 1951, the CPA is dedicated to promoting an environment that fosters excellence in the provision of clinical care, education and research.