Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer Health Professional Forum on New Cannabis Toolkit to Educate Health Professionals

December 3, 2018 – Ottawa, ON – Government of Canada

The Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) Health Professional Forum, which comprises 18 national health organizations, is working with partners to ensure health professionals are well-equipped to provide Canadians with credible and evidence-based information and advice on the use of non-medical cannabis since its legalization and regulation.

Health professionals play an important role in communicating to the public about the health and safety risks of cannabis in all forms of use. To this end the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) recently developed Cannabasics1, in collaboration with members of the CPHO Health Professional Forum. Cannabasics is an information package on cannabis tailored to health professionals. The toolkit provides a set of fact sheets and links to key resources that give an overview of cannabis plants and products, methods of consumption, and approaches to harm reduction. It also links to resources produced by partner associations.

As with other regulated substances, such as alcohol and tobacco, cannabis use is not without harms. While there is some evidence of potential therapeutic uses for cannabis, the long-term effects remain unknown, and more research needs to be done.

Health professionals across Canada are concerned about the potential risks and harms of cannabis use such as driving while impaired, and other risks especially among children, youth, young adults, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and seniors. Collectively, members of the Forum encourage health professionals to use resources such as Cannabasics, the Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines developed at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and other credible sources of evidence as tools to support patient education to reduce the potential risks and harms associated with cannabis use.

The legalization and regulation of cannabis represents a significant shift in drug policy in Canada. It marks the introduction of a new legal framework for cannabis that is designed to better protect public health and safety. The federal government is working with provinces and territories and other stakeholders to monitor the impacts of cannabis legalization and regulation.

Within this new environment, health professionals have a responsibility to be informed about cannabis and the potential risks and harms associated with its use. It is imperative that health professionals and Canadians have the best available information to understand this changing landscape, along with evidence-based resources to make informed decisions about cannabis.

The CPHO Health Professional Forum will continue to collectively address gaps and collaborate on public health issues related to problematic substance use, including reducing harms to Canadians, addressing stigma in the health system and supporting health professionals in making evidence-informed decisions.

Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
Co-Chair, CPHO Health Professional Forum

Mr. Ian Culbert
Executive Director, Canadian Public Health Association
Co-Chair, CPHO Health Professional Forum

Important Links

About the CPHO Health Professional Forum

Formed in 2018 and comprising of 18 national health organizations, the CPHO Health Professional Forum brings together national health organizations to collaborate and take action on public health issues of national importance. It has identified four priority areas for collaboration: Indigenous health, including cultural competency/safety, problematic substance use, antimicrobial resistance and infectious disease prevention, and dementia/seniors health. The Forum seeks to increase understanding of public health priorities and respective initiatives among member organizations; strengthen relationships with and between public health professional organizations; increase collaboration and synergy among member organizations; and enhance responsiveness on emerging areas of public health and/or crises through coordinated responses and messaging.

Members of the CPHO Health Professional Forum

  • Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Canada
  • Canadian Dental Association
  • Canadian Geriatrics Society
  • Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association
  • Canadian Medical Association
  • Canadian Nurses Association
  • Canadian Paediatric Society
  • Canadian Pharmacists Association
  • Canadian Psychological Association
  • Canadian Public Health Association
  • College of Family Physicians of Canada
  • Community Health Nurses of Canada
  • HealthCareCAN
  • Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada
  • Infection Prevention and Control Canada
  • Public Health Physicians of Canada
  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada

Supported by funding provided through Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program


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