The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction has released a new report on cannabis legalization observations for policy development and shows progress towards the objectives of the Cannabis Act but says there is still room for improvement in a post-pandemic context.
In the report released this week, the agency showed that policymakers need to consider how future policy development responds to the continued risk of harm to underage people, the continued expansion of the cannabis market, which has yet to stabilize and the growing use of different product formats, including vaping, edibles and extracts.
The report includes key findings to shape future directions for cannabis-related research, policy development and public health education.
Among the findings, the agency found there has been a dramatic reduction in cannabis-related charges since legalization.
The report explains risks to children and youth may need future consideration as it was shown that more youth than adults who already use cannabis reported an increase in their use during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also found an increased rate of cannabis vaping among youth and an increase incannabis-related emergency department visits and hospitalization following the introduction of edibles to the legal market.
The legal retail cannabis market continues to grow and remains years away from stability, particularly with the effects of the COVID-19
pandemic. Legal retail sales continue to grow and consumer preferences for legal cannabis seem to be increasing.
While dried cannabis remains dominant, edibles have the most rapid increase in units sold, closely followed by extracts.
“The introduction of new product formats brought new challenges to determining equivalencies for possession limits. There is considerable variation in product composition (i.e., the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol and other cannabinoids and terpenes) resulting in significant variation across product types in intoxication potential, health risks and monetary value in the permitted possession limit, ” reads the report.
The Cannabis Act requires the Minister of Health to review the effects of the act and its administration three years after coming into force.
The review is in progress and will examine the effects on public health, mental health, health and consumption patterns of young persons, effects on Indigenous people and communities and home cultivation.