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A new era for cannabis in Canada, but concerns remain, CNA says

Ottawa, October 16, 2018 – On the eve of the legalization of cannabis in Canada, Mike Villeneuve, CEO of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), issued the following statement:

“CNA has been working diligently to help ensure that everyone is ready for the legalization of recreational cannabis tomorrow. As we enter this new era of cannabis use, we encourage everyone – especially nurses – to visit CNA’s website to see the educational tools and resources that we have to offer.

“To mitigate the harms associated with cannabis consumption, CNA has focused on two approaches – education and harm reduction. Our recently released one-page summary, “How to Reduce the Harms of Non-Medical Cannabis Use [PDF, 73.6 KB],” is an excellent educational tool for the public and nurses alike. Earlier this year, we released Harm Reduction for Non-Medical Cannabis Use [PDF, 669.3 KB], a landmark report that discussed how legalization can minimize the social harms of non-medical cannabis use.

“While CNA welcomes Bill C-45, the federal act that legalized non-medical cannabis, we continue to have concerns. First, the ongoing youth criminal penalties under the law will impact a large number of youth. Prohibition simply does not work. Criminal penalties for youth possessing more than five grams of cannabis are too onerous and, if laid on an individual, could jeopardize his or her future. Furthermore, these penalties will disproportionately affect marginalized or racialized groups. In a submission to the Senate [PDF, 194.1 KB], CNA recommended that youth possession of cannabis not be subject to criminal penalties and that, instead, the government adopt a restorative justice approach.

“Second, while CNA was pleased earlier this year to see that the federal budget provided new investments for cannabis education, we feel more can be done. A recent Nanos survey [PDF, 1.1 MB] revealed that more than nine in 10 Canadians expect nurses to be key sources of cannabis information, but a separate survey [PDF, 471.6 KB] found that only six in 10 nurses consider themselves knowledgeable or very knowledgeable about the risks associated with non-medical cannabis. In March 2018, CNA hosted a Health Canada-funded cannabis think-tank for nurses from across the country to identify key learning needs and strategies. We hope to have more of these opportunities in the future.

“Lastly, CNA will forge ahead in our call for the continuation of two separate supply streams for medical and non-medical cannabis. Further, we will continue to call on the government to remove the tax on medical cannabis. Earlier this year, CNA joined several groups in a joint submission to the House of Commons standing committee on finance to call on the federal government to reconsider its decision to extend the excise duty framework for cannabis for medical purposes. As a result of this new framework, patients will suffer.”




Ready to roll? Examining the readiness and role of Canadian nurses as the country prepares for legalization of non-medical cannabis – TODAY! Recording available soon.
French version of the webinar on October 18 at 12 p.m. ET

Cannabis in Canada: Implications for Nursing in a Changing Legal and Health-Care Landscape (June 2017)

Reducing Harms of Non-Medical Cannabis Use (February 2018)

Creating safe spaces for people who use drugs – (more opioid specific, but speaks to reducing stigma, person-centred care, obligations under the Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses)


For a full list of CNA’s cannabis resources, including government submissions and presentations, visit cna-aiic.ca/cannabis.

The Canadian Nurses Association is the national and global professional voice of Canadian nursing, representing over 139,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners in Canada. CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

For more information, please contact:

David Granovsky
Lead, Government Relations
Canadian Nurses Association
Tel: 613-237-2159, ext. 525
Cell: 613-697-7497
Email: dgranovsky@cna-aiic.ca