On October 11, 2018, Kim Moran, CEO of Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) presented to the Standing Committee on Social Policy. Here is Children’s Mental Health Ontario’s Official statement, reflecting a summary of Kim Moran’s expert analysis and evidence-based recommendations.

 

"We don’t know for certain if rates of cannabis use among youth will increase, but cannabis legalization is expected to impact the demand and wait times for youth mental health in Ontario. Right now, youth across the province are already struggling to access mental health and addiction treatment and the supports they need – some are waiting for a year or more. If usage goes up, even slightly, as estimated in the Ontario Student Drug Use and Mental Health Survey, it will be critically important to ensure that there are treatment services in place. The Government of Ontario will offer a youth education and prevention campaign. This is a great first step, but further action is required. In order to minimize the harmful health risks to youth due to cannabis use and deter self-medicating due to a lack of professional supports available to youth, CMHO is recommending that the Government of Ontario make sure that the availability of treatment, including counselling and therapy, is equal to that of accessing cannabis.  Research shows that children and youth already use cannabis to self-medicate for anxiety.[1] Cannabis can also lead, in some cases, to a dependence or an addiction. Research also shows and leading youth psychiatrists report that, for those youth already predisposed, first episode of psychosis and schizophrenia appear to have been triggered by chronic cannabis usage.[2] There is already a promise by the province of $3.8B towards mental health, but an investment in child and youth mental health should be prioritized because early intervention has shown better health outcomes and has a long-term return on investment, economically and socially.  Additionally, cannabis revenues should be reinvested to address the harms related to cannabis, for example into education, prevention and treatment, particularly for youth.  CMHO looks forward to ongoing opportunities to share the expertise of our members and our youth involved in CMHO’s The New Mentality to advise on how we can best minimize the harms related to cannabis use for youth."

 

[1] Buckner, J.D.; Heimberg, R.G.; Schneier, F.R.; et al. The relationship between cannabis use disorders and social anxiety disorder in the National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC).Drug and Alcohol Dependence 124(1–2):128–134, 2012. Full Text

[2] Assessing causality in associations between cannabis use and schizophrenia risk: a two-sample Mendelian randomization study S. H. Gage1,2*, H. J. Jones1,4, S. Burgess3, J. Bowden1,4,5, G. Davey Smith1,4, S. Zammit4,6 and M. R. Munafò1,2