Montreal, November 16, 2017 — In light of the tabling of the cannabis legalization bill this morning by the Quebec government, Portage applauds the adoption of a motion by the National Assembly asking the federal government to delay the legalization of cannabis to no sooner than July 1, 2019. Portage is a drug rehabilitation centre that welcomes, among other clients, 14 to 18 year-old youth in five centres across Canada.
“Every year, approximately 500 adolescents aged 14 to 18 years old are admitted to our centres, 88% of which are addicted to marijuana. The devastating impact of cannabis abuse is witnessed daily in our organization, so we are worried about the effects legalization will have,” said Seychelle Harding, Communications Director at Portage.
Portage believes that creating the Quebec Cannabis Society (Société québécoise du cannabis in French, or SQC) is a step in the right direction. “Since the Canadian government is determined to move ahead quickly, Quebec must set up a framework to regulate the sale and distribution of cannabis, especially to protect vulnerable clienteles. Because it has extensive experience in helping drug addicts, Portage wishes to collaborate with the Quebec government to ensure that prevention and rehabilitation be at the heart of the government’s efforts,” Mrs. Harding added.
Portage is also concerned that no terms have been defined for the online sale of cannabis. The organization quotes the 2015 Global Drug Survey, which showed that the online supply of drugs has increased by nearly 25% from 2000 to 2014. A general survey among Portage residents revealed that 30% of them have already used the Internet to buy drugs. It is therefore important that the SQC quickly establish rigorous terms for the online purchase of cannabis.
Moreover, Portage expresses regret that the Quebec government set the legal age of marijuana at 18 years old, and restates its recommendation that the level of THC, the psychoactive element of marijuana, be controlled for users under the age of 25. Until that age, the brain is still in development, and THC can, when consumed in high dosage, increase the risk of mental illness.
Finally, Portage firmly believes that the government must empower drug rehabilitation centres by reinvesting all taxes collected through the legalization of marijuana to develop a national strategy for preventing drug addiction and, ultimately, that a significant portion be invested in drug rehabilitation centres.
Addiction Awareness Week—An Ad to Raise Awareness
On the eve of the Addiction Awareness Week, held from November 19 to 25, Portage warns that legalization won’t stop addiction, and asks that we remain vigilant. The organization notes that legalizing cannabis tends to trivialize its use, and that is why it is launching next week an ad to raise awareness on the importance of staying cautious. The ad campaign will first be broadcast in social media and will be followed by a broader poster campaign in 2018.
“We chose to start our ad campaign on social media, because we want to speak to the youth on the platforms they use most. We believe it’s important not to downplay the consequences of cannabis use. Our teens should not have to pay the price,” Mrs. Harding concluded.