New Brunswick is creating education and awareness programs on the safe use of cannabis ahead of the legalization of recreational marijuana in July 2018.
The province plans to introduce legislation to establish a fund to research, develop, implement and deliver the programs.
“Studies show that youth who use cannabis on a heavy and regular basis are at risk of negative physical and mental health outcomes. We all want to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, acting chief medical officer of health.
“It is our job to do all that we can to protect the health of New Brunswickers, especially children and youth.”
The fund will include initiatives that focus on harm reduction and health effects. As well, funding will be given to projects to research recreational use of cannabis in general.
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“We know that education and awareness alone will not change behaviour and reduce the health risks of consuming cannabis,” Russell said. “This fund will also help us put in place other ways to prevent children and youth for example from using cannabis or at the very least delaying when they start.”
The legislation, called the Cannabis Education and Awareness Fund Act, will be administered by the Department of Finance. An advisory board, which Russell will sit on, will set future guidelines and recommend projects to be funded each year.
“The fund will involve government, industry, researchers and public health practitioners working together with shared goals and will lead the country, an initiative of this kind,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers.
Cannabis suppliers and the Crown corporation overseeing retail cannabis in New Brunswick have agreed that suppliers will provide two per cent of their gross sales to the province to support education and awareness.