Don’s statement on the Cannabis Act

“For decades, evidence has been mounting that the ‘war on drugs’ has been a clear failure from a public health perspective. Our party has long understood that substance use disorder isn’t a moral failure and that criminal prohibition and stigmatization have been counter-productive in many ways.

That is why for many years New Democrats have consistently advocated for an evidence-based and health-informed approach to substance-use and addiction policy. It’s time to push past our misconceptions, and chart a better course.

We look forward to studying the legislation tabled today and working with experts and stakeholders across Canada carefully to help ensure that cannabis use can be regulated as responsibly and safely as possible.

We do have a few specific points to make at this juncture.

One of the negative health consequences of criminalization of cannabis has been a widely-acknowledged lack of scientific research into the health impacts of cannabis use, especially chronic, long-term use. We must be particularly concerned about the health impacts of cannabis use on young people. Therefore, we will be pressing the government to begin establishing research plans and funding into these important areas.

Second, tthe opioid crisis has highlighted the unacceptable lack of access to addictions treatment across Canada. As we transform illicit profits from the underground cannabis market into government revenue, we believe that the federal government ought to dedicate a substantial portion of those funds toward addictions treatment and prevention. We will be pressing the government to do so.

Finally, many Canadians are utilizing medicinal cannabis as an important part of their health care regimen. Therefore, Health Canada must develop a comprehensive medical cannabis framework that gives patients affordable access to safe and effective treatment. This includes providing physicians and other health care providers with education and evidence-based prescribing indications. This bill appears to ignore this important area entirely. This is a major omission, one that unnecessarily leaves patients and the medical industry in limbo.”

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