Interior Health adapting to legalized cannabis

Creating new challenges for IH staff, public health care facilities

The challenges are numerous for Interior Health now that cannabis has been legalized for both medical and recreational use.

And those challenges sometimes come with more questions than answers as government policy on legalized cannabis continues to evolve, says Aaron Miller, IH corporate director, population health.

While cannabis now falls under the same legalized category as tobacco and alcohol, Miller says the rules for cannabis use in public are unique both for IH staff in their working environments and the public being treated at health facilities or living in government residential care.

RELATED: Puff, puff pass—cannabis becomes officially legal starting Oct. 17

In response to Miller’s policy update presentation to the Interior Health board on Wednesday, board director Dennis Rounsville asked why there seems to be a disconnect between the rules associated with consuming alcohol as compared to cannabis.

“It seems alcohol use is more restrictive within public areas while cannabis is not,” Rounsville said.

Miller responded the pathway to legalized cannabis remains a learning process that will be subject to change in the months and years ahead.

He said IH has updated 16 employee policies and procedures after an extensive internal review to incorporate cannabis use rules for staff in their workplace and the public in IH facilities, which will continue to be updated based on new learnings and other unanticipated changes.

Other IH initiatives have included working with municipal governments within the health region to provide information to the public regarding the impacts of cannabis legalization; the IH Integrated Tobacco Team and Healthy Community Development Team working with local governments on bylaw language regarding cannabis smoking in public spaces; and collaborating with other B.C. health regions on advancement and coordination of policies/procedures.

“As with any substance, we are trying to provide education resources to the public to minimize the potential harm while also respecting the philosophy of choice for people. It is definitely a learning process,” Miller said.

RELATED: One month after marijuana has been legalized

He added that legalization of edibles containing cannabis raises concerns such as access to youth and marketing and packaging issues yet to be resolved at the federal government level.

“We are waiting for more information from the federal government regarding edibles,” added Dr. Trevor Cornell, vice-president, population health and chief medical health officer for IH.

“Certainly the chief medical officer of Canada and the provincial public health officers are currently doing what they can to influence prevention aspects and risks around that.”

Calling the legalization of cannabis “an interesting social experiment that should be viewed from a community health perspective,” IH board chair Doug Cochrane suggested efforts should be made to track the unintended consequences and health effects that result.

RELATED: Legalizing cannabis called a ‘monumental shift’

“We did not do that rigorously enough around tobacco and alcohol early on, so I am wondering if there are plans to handle cannabis differently or will we wait until 10 years down the road when other things draw our attention to those issues,” he suggested.

Miller reiterated to Cochrane that understanding the impact of legalized cannabis has become a daily learning process.

“I don’t know about any tracking studies at this point but I feel we have much to learn as more and more research begins to be carried out around this. I don’t think it will be a quick process but it will be a learning process for everyone,” Miller said.



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Traffic violators caught and charged by RCMP throughout June

Canim Lake the scene of many, thankfully, false alarms this month

Williams Lake Stampede Association hosting drive-in movie nights

Fresh Air Cinema, FortisBC are providing the movie nights to communities across B.C.

Take a tour back in time at 150 Mile schoolhouse

Built by local residents in 1896, it served as the community’s only school until 1958

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read