MONTRÉAL, April 18, 2018 – In preparation for the legalization of cannabis this summer, the Government of Québec recently launched an awareness campaign to inform young people about the effects of the drug. Portage, which welcomes hundreds of teenagers with drug problems every year at its drug rehabilitation centres, is launching its own campaign around cannabis legalization, in keeping with the provincial government’s efforts.
Portage is calling for vigilance in the face of cannabis legalization. As the campaign states, legalization won’t stop addiction. It trivializes its consumption. With 45 years of experience in addiction treatment, Portage is intimately aware of the adverse effects of cannabis abuse. Leading up to 4/20, a day that celebrates cannabis and encourages its legalization, Portage’s campaign seeks to encourage discussion around protecting Canadian youth and vulnerable populations from cannabis abuse.
The campaign was developed courtesy of Agence Génération and is being broadcast in collaboration with Bell, Cogeco, TC Transcontinental, and Publicité Sauvage.
The most commonly-used drug among Canadian youth
Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug among Canadians aged 15 to 24 and is more commonly used by youth in Canada than in any other country, according to a study done by UNICEF in 2013. Of the 500 adolescents (14 to 18 years of age) who come to Portage every year, 88% declare upon admission that they are addicted to cannabis.
A duty to legalize responsibly
In accordance with recommendations from the Association des médecins psychiatres du Québec and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), Portage has recommended to the federal and Québec provincial governments that cannabis not be legalized for young people who are under twenty-one years of age, and that the level of THC in cannabis be controlled. Since the human brain is not fully developed until the age of twenty-five, these recommendations seek to mitigate the mental health implications of cannabis use.
In legalizing cannabis, Portage believes that the government has an even greater duty to protect its citizens and to help people suffering from addiction. The revenue generated by legalization must be used to educate and prevent the public from potential substance abuse-related problems. In addition, a significant portion of these revenues must be allocated to drug rehabilitation centres such as Portage, who help people to free themselves from addiction, and live healthy, happy, and productive lives.
“Legal or illegal, people will still become addicted to cannabis, with potentially devastating effects. We see it every day in Portage’s drug rehabilitation centres. In the current context of legalization, it’s important to educate the population and especially young people about the danger of this drug. That’s what we’re trying to do with this campaign.”
- Peter Howlett, President of Portage
“Cannabis gradually penetrated my life and became an obsession. It affected my neurons and my lungs. Today, in hindsight, I see cannabis as a poison that slowly kills. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t touch it.”
- Hind, Portage graduate, currently living at Portage’s supervised apartments, Habitations communautaires Portage II
To view our awareness campaign: