“Where does the high road lead?” Potential implications of cannabis legalization for pediatric injuries in Canada


The purpose of this commentary is to discuss how legalization of non-medical marijuana (LNMM) in Canada can potentially influence child and adolescent unintentional injuries based on evidence from states (American) and jurisdictions that have already legalized cannabis for recreational purposes. Although the evidence is still not conclusive, LNMM can bring about higher exposure, lower perceived harms, and higher prevalence of cannabis use by minors through role modeling and normalization of behaviour within the household and the community, and higher rates of driving under the influence of cannabis, which can contribute to a higher burden of road traffic injuries. Experience of American states with LNMM shows higher rates of emergency visits for pediatric poisoning due to unintentional ingestion of cannabis-containing foods and severe burns due to explosions during the course of home-based cannabis extraction. While the justification for legalization has created a strict legal framework for improved control of cannabis in Canada, the implications for health and safety of children and adolescents necessitate further study, communication with policy-makers and public health practitioners, and evidence-based education of parents, caregivers, and youth.

Link to article in the Canadian Journal of Public Health

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