Expert Advisory - Cannabis Legalization

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Cannabis Act will come into effect October 17, making cannabis possession, growth, and purchase for recreational purposes legal across Canada. The University of Waterloo has experts available to speak with the media about the impact of cannabis legalization on Canadians.

Michael Beazely, Chair of the Waterloo Region Integrated Drug Steering (WRIDS) Prevention Coordinating Committee and vice-chair of the WRIDS Steering Committee. 

Beazely is cross-appointed to the School of Pharmacy, the School of Public Health, and the Department of Biology. He is a trained pharmacist and researches drug pharmacology and the impact of drugs on the brain. He has developed educational resources on the impact of cannabis use in youth, pregnant women, and other demographics.

“Cannabis use can have significant impacts on the body and brain development, particularly in young people. Factors such as the chemical makeup of the cannabis and the method of using cannabis also alter the effects it will have on the body.”

Kelly Grindrod, project lead of Pharmacy5in5, a digital platform that allows pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to self-assess knowledge on key health topics such as cannabis.

Grindrod is cross-appointed to the School of Pharmacy and the School of Public Health. She is a pharmacist who researches how mobile and social technologies can promote the safe and effective use of medications. She has designed cannabis-related video and infographic resources for public education.

“As legalization approaches, we should be aware of how cannabis can interact with medications, particularly the types of medications that already make you sleepy, confused, or impair your coordination such as opioid pain relievers, sleeping pills, or some antidepressants. These are just a few of the drugs that may interact with cannabis, so be sure to talk to your pharmacist if you’re thinking about trying cannabis.”

Scott Leatherdale, Canadian Institutes of Health Research Chair in Applied Public Health Research 

Leatherdale is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems. He and his team have been tracking cannabis use among youth since 2012. 

“It is important to remember that post-legalization, cannabis will still be illicit for Canadian youth despite high rates of current use among youth populations. We expect there to be some immediate increases in use given the social normalization associated with cannabis legalization, we expect rates of use to return to the general steady state that currently exists.

David Hammond, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Public Health Agency of Canada Chair in Applied Public Health 

Hammond has published extensively on cannabis use and testified on the Cannabis Act in both the Senate and House of Commons. His areas of expertise include cannabis education, the illicit cannabis market, cannabis products and patterns of use, and cannabis policies. He is also leading one of the largest international studies on cannabis use to date to examine the impact of legalization in Canada and US states. 

“Legalization of cannabis in Canada represents a landmark experiment in substance use policy. The impact of legalization will largely depend on how it is regulated in terms of product standards, marketing, and retail availability.”

About the University of Waterloo

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Media Contact:

Ryon Jones
University of Waterloo
519-888-4567 ext. 30031

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