Health Canada Follows Conservative Government War on Pot

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Prime Minister Harper
Prime Minister Harper

Conservatives Battle Pot, and Justin Trudeau

THUNDER BAY – Health Canada regularly undertakes evidence-based communications to raise awareness about serious public health issues. From 2007 to 2012, for example, as part of the government’s National Anti-Drug Strategy, the Department developed the DrugsNot4Me mass media campaign. The Department also engages with partners on smoking cessation campaigns like “Break It Off”.

In a media statement issued August 16th, Health Canada states, “As standard practice, the Department seeks partnerships and invites health professionals to share their insights and experiences to ensure that we have captured the risks accurately. The intent of the campaigns is educational and the material is based on evidence and science. The proposed focus, messages and concepts for such campaigns are routinely informed by consultation sessions where health professional groups identify sound public health messaging”.

“The prevalence and health risks of marijuana and prescription drug use and abuse make them compelling public health issues in Canada. Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug among Canadian youth today. According to the 2012-2013 Canadian Youth Smoking Survey, one in five students reported using marijuana in the year preceding the survey. The average age of initiation being 14 years old”.

Prescription drug abuse is also having a devastating impact on communities and people of all ages across the country. According to a 2013 report of the International Narcotics Control Board, Canada is now the second-largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids, behind only by the United States.

In 2012, about 1 million youth, aged 15 to 24 years, reported having used a psychoactive pharmaceutical in the past 12 months.

Health Canada will continue to work to find ways to raise awareness among parents and youth about the health risks of marijuana and prescription drug abuse. We will not speculate on future campaigns.

College of Family Physicians of Canada Butts Out of Campaign

The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada will not be participating in Health Canada’s upcoming anti-drug educational campaign targeted at young Canadians.

As the largest national organizations representing Canada’s doctors, the CFPC, CMA and Royal College were invited to co-brand and provide expert advice on an upcoming public education campaign initiated and funded by Health Canada. The educational campaign has now become a political football on Canada’s marijuana policy and for this reason the CFPC, CMA and Royal College will not be participating. We did not, and do not, support or endorse any political messaging or political advertising on this issue.

All three organizations support the importance of educating the public on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. The CFPC, CMA and Royal College will continue working to enhance public education and increase awareness of the health risks of drug and alcohol consumption by Canada’s young people.

Prime Minister Harper
Prime Minister Harper