Legalizing cannabis

Legalizing cannabis

On March 26, 2018, Doctors Nova Scotia released a position statement on the legalization of cannabis in the province. The statement, which was developed by the association’s Policy and Health Issues Committee, makes six recommendations aimed at minimizing the harms associated with cannabis use.

Doctors Nova Scotia believes it will be important to restrict cannabis use in public places and restrict its availability, similar to the approach taken with tobacco, yet not to the degree that it triggers underground sales.

Recommendation #1: Cannabis should be distributed and sold through government monopolies where the primary objective is protecting public health and safety, not revenue generation. This distinction should be recognized in legislation. 

Recommendation #2: Establish and invest in the necessary infrastructure to appropriately administer a government monopoly system and enforce restrictions.

Recommendation #3: Establish a pricing and taxation structure designed to curb demand for cannabis. Initially, pricing should maximize purchase from the legal market, but over time pricing should be adjusted. Base price on Delta-9-tetrahdrocannibonal (THC) concentration and/or set maximum THC concentrations. Finally, develop a taxation system that supports prevention strategies, and prohibit discount pricing, happy hour pricing, bulk purchasing, coupons and giveaways.

Recommendation #4: Protect youth from cannabis use by means such as establishing the minimum legal age of 21 to enter a cannabis shop, purchase cannabis and/or use cannabis.

Recommendation #5: Implement a comprehensive public education and awareness program aimed at promoting responsible use and preventing cannabis-related morbidity and mortality, such as harms to children and youth exposed to or using cannabis, and cannabis-impaired driving.

Recommendation #6: The initial regulatory approaches put forward by the federal and provincial governments should be cautious. Adjustments can be made as time progresses based on comprehensive monitoring and research. 

Next steps