5. Public Health and Harm Reduction Approaches to Cannabis Use

A public health approach promotes the health and well-being of the whole population and works to help all groups of people have an equal chance of having good health.[1]Canadian Public Health Association. (2014). Canadian Public Health Association discussion paper. A new approach to managing illegal psychoactive substances in Canada. Retrieved from: https://www.cpha.ca/sites/default/files/assets/policy/ips_2014-05-15_e.pdf Taking a public health approach to cannabis use means working to reduce harms while also using targeted measures for those who are at higher risk of harm due to their cannabis use.[5]The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. (2016). A framework for the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Canada. The final report of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/marijuana-cannabis/task-force-marijuana-legalization-regulation/framework-legalization-regulation-cannabis-in-canada.html

The strategies used in a public health approach are health promotion and protection, prevention, harm reduction, and evidence-based services to support those who have developed or are at risk of developing a substance use problem.[2]Canadian Public Health Association. (2014). Canadian Public Health Association discussion paper. A new Approach to managing illegal psychoactive substances in Canada. Retrieved from: https://www.cpha.ca/sites/default/files/assets/policy/ips_2014-05-15_e.pdf Addressing the risk and protective factors that determine the health of populations is also part of a public health approach(see section 2, subsection 3, for examples of risk and protective factors among post-secondary students).[3]Canadian Public Health Association. (2014). Canadian Public Health Association discussion paper. A new approach to managing illegal psychoactive substances in Canada. Retrieved from: https://www.cpha.ca/sites/default/files/assets/policy/ips_2014-05-15_e.pdf

The legalization and regulation of cannabis provides the opportunity for cannabis use to be treated as a health issue rather than as a criminal one.

As previously noted, harm reduction is part of a public health approach to address cannabis use. Harm reduction refers to any efforts to minimize the harms associated with substance use.[4]International Harm Reduction Association. (2010). What is harm reduction? A position statement from the International Harm Reduction Association. Retrieved from: https://www.hri.global/contents/1269 It operates on the premise that some people will use substances, and that those who use them may not be able or want to stop using them.[6]Ibid Harm reduction is grounded in the belief that people have the right to choose how they live their lives and that they deserve respect.[7]Canadian Nurses Association & Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. (2012). Joint position statement. Harm reduction. Retrieved from: https://cna-aiic.ca/~/media/cna/page-content/pdf-en/jps_harm_reduction_2012_e.pdf The focus is on promoting safer use of substances to prevent harm.[8]Canadian Nurses Association & Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. (2012). Joint position statement. Harm reduction. Retrieved from: https://cna-aiic.ca/~/media/cna/page-content/pdf-en/jps_harm_reduction_2012_e.pdf For more information on harm reduction approaches when working with students see Section 2.

References   [ + ]

1, 3. Canadian Public Health Association. (2014). Canadian Public Health Association discussion paper. A new approach to managing illegal psychoactive substances in Canada. Retrieved from: https://www.cpha.ca/sites/default/files/assets/policy/ips_2014-05-15_e.pdf
2. Canadian Public Health Association. (2014). Canadian Public Health Association discussion paper. A new Approach to managing illegal psychoactive substances in Canada. Retrieved from: https://www.cpha.ca/sites/default/files/assets/policy/ips_2014-05-15_e.pdf
4. International Harm Reduction Association. (2010). What is harm reduction? A position statement from the International Harm Reduction Association. Retrieved from: https://www.hri.global/contents/1269
5. The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. (2016). A framework for the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Canada. The final report of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/marijuana-cannabis/task-force-marijuana-legalization-regulation/framework-legalization-regulation-cannabis-in-canada.html
6. Ibid
7, 8. Canadian Nurses Association & Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. (2012). Joint position statement. Harm reduction. Retrieved from: https://cna-aiic.ca/~/media/cna/page-content/pdf-en/jps_harm_reduction_2012_e.pdf
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