Access to Cannabis Should Not Occur Prior to Age 21, according to a position statement by the Canadian Consortium for Early Intervention in Psychosis

HAMILTON, Ontario, Feb. 02, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In response to the recommendations of the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation, the Canadian Consortium for Early Intervention in Psychosis (CCEIP) has released a position statement recommending that age of access to cannabis not be prior to the age of 21, while also restricting quantity and THC potency for those between 21-25 years of age.

The CCEIP is a national body of mental health clinicians and researchers whose mission is to ensure optimal care for Canadians in the early phase of psychosis through improved service models and the generation and translation of knowledge.

"We have evidence that exposure to marijuana by adolescents and young adults poses definite risks to their mental health, especially for those who may already be vulnerable to mental illness," states Dr Ashok Malla, CCEIP past-president and current member, Canada Research Chair in Early Psychosis, and Lead Investigator of ACCESS Open Minds (Esprits ouverts), Canada.

The Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation recently released a report on the design of a new system to legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis. In order to minimize harm, the Task Force recommended the federal government set a national minimum age of purchase of 18, while recognizing the risks associated with cannabis use, including the risks of developmental harms to youth; the risks associated with patterns of consumption, including frequent use and co-use of cannabis with alcohol and tobacco; and the risks to vulnerable populations including those with mental illness.

In response to these recommendations, the CCEIP position statement on cannabis focuses on the mental health of the youth and young adults they serve. The CCEIP highlights the importance of evidence-based care, acknowledging that:

  • Regular cannabis use in youth and young adults can affect aspects of cognition including attention, memory, processing speed, visuospatial functioning and overall IQ.
  • Early and regular cannabis use increases the risk of developing a primary psychotic illness in those individuals who are vulnerable.
  • In those young adults who have developed psychosis, continued cannabis use worsens long term symptom and functional outcomes.
  • Cannabis with high THC content (high potency) can result in significantly worse mental health and cognitive outcomes in individuals with Early Phase Psychosis.

The full position statement can be found at

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