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Government of Canada holding a symposium on cannabis public education Friday, Nov 10 in Ottawa

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Government of Canada holding a symposium on cannabis public education Friday, Nov 10 in Ottawa

The Partnership Symposium on Cannabis Public Education and Awareness will bring together about 90 representatives from stakeholders across Canada

November 6, 2017

 
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Featured image via Wiki Commons

 

The Government of Canada will be holding a symposium on cannabis public education and awareness on Friday, Nov. 10 in Ottawa with various national health and safety organizations, provinces and territories, indigenous groups, and more.

 

The government unveiled the symposium as part of their announcement on Oct 31 for an additional $36.4 million in funding over the next five years for a ‘cannabis education and awareness campaign,’ used to “inform Canadians, including youth and other priority populations such as Indigenous peoples, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and Canadians with a history of mental illness, of the health and safety risks of cannabis use and drug-impaired driving.”

 

According to Tammy Jarbeau, Senior Media Relations Advisor at Health Canada, the Partnership Symposium on Cannabis Public Education and Awareness will bring together about 90 representatives of national health and safety organizations; federal, provincial and territorial governments; Indigenous groups; and others that “have an important role to play in raising awareness and educating the public on risks of cannabis to their health and safety.”

 

“By working together, we can maximize the reach and impact of our collective efforts to raise awareness and educate the public about the health and safety risks of cannabis use and drug-impaired driving,” Jarbeau told Lift News.

 

The Symposium will provide an opportunity for participants to share their insights on successes, proven practices, and challenges in raising awareness and educating the public on risks to health and safety,” she continues. “It will also provide an opportunity to discuss the development of evidence-based content for public education campaigns, explore tools and strategies to effectively reach target audiences, and discuss priority areas for collective action and partnership that will support a coordinated and consistent approach to cannabis public education and awareness.”

 

Jarbeau says the symposium will look at the “unique” needs of youth and young adults, as well as a focus on other “priority segments” of Canada, like indigenous communities, seniors, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and individuals living with or predisposed to mental illness. She notes Canada has the highest rates of cannabis use relative to its counterparts in other developed countries. This factor has been a key piece of reasoning for why the current government seeks to legalize, regulate and restrict the sale and use of cannabis in Canada.

 

Jarbeau says one example of such a partnership is Health Canada’s work with Drug Free Kids Canada (DFK) to promote the Cannabis Talk Kit, a guide to help parents talk with their kids about cannabis.

 

“Health Canada has distributed more than 100,000 copies of the Talk Kit to physicians, schools, community organizations and others across Canada, with more being requested every day,” the Senior Media Relations Advisor at Health Canada explains. “To date, more than 25 organizations, including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Peediatric Society and the College of Family Physicians of Canada, have agreed to support and distribute the Talk Kit. Additionally, the Canadian Psychiatric Association has publicly endorsed the Talk Kit and has committed to distributing this tool to its members.”

 

The investment is in addition to another $9.6 million over five years the government has already pledged for similar awareness campaigns, as well as surveillance, or monitoring, of the legalization process.

 

“We are tackling the issue of cannabis use with long-term investments in our education and awareness efforts,” said Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor in a press release in October. “We want to make sure all Canadians, particularly our young adults and youth, understand the health and safety risks of cannabis. These efforts also aim to equip parents and teachers with tools to have meaningful discussions with young Canadians about the risks of cannabis use.”

 

Public education programming is expected to cover issues like safe consumption, impaired driving, and available medical research on benefits and harms, among others. Other jurisdictions that have passed legalization measures have rolled out similar programs, from Uruguay to Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and others, utilizing traditional advertising mediums, as well as social media and peer-to-peer messaging. Figures from 2015 show the Conservative government spent over $7 million on a 12-week anti-drug advertising campaign focusing on cannabis.

 

The government's task force report on the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Canada, released last December, makes several recommendations for investments in baseline data collection and ongoing surveillance and evaluation in collaboration with provinces and territories.

 

https://news.lift.co/government-canada-holding-symposium-cannabis-public-education-friday-nov-10-ottawa

 

 

 

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