Pediatricians: Ontario not ready
Call for Public Education, Study of Effects
TORONTO, Nov. 17, 2017 /CNW/ - Ontario's Pediatricians warned today that the upcoming legalization of marijuana poses potentially serious health risks for children and adolescents—and the province is not ready to cope. The Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario (PAO) noted that when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, a children's hospital saw a fourfold increase in the number of teenagers coming to emergency rooms or urgent care centres with marijuana intoxication.
While the government of Ontario proposes a public education campaign for young adults, it is equally important to warn children and their parents of the risks of marijuana use, said PAO President Dr. Hirotaka Yamashiro.
"The public needs to understand that marijuana use has been proven to cause serious damage to the developing brains of children," said Dr. Yamashiro. "Parents and caregivers should be taking precautions."
The PAO is calling upon the Minister of Health to develop a targeted public education campaign on the effects of marijuana on children and also to commission studies to explore the impacts after legalization. As preeminent experts in children's health, pediatricians are offering their assistance.
"I already regularly treat children with serious health problems because of marijuana use," said Dr. Sharon Burey, a Windsor pediatrician and Vice President of PAO. "With legalization, many more kids may potentially be exposed in their homes."
- Marijuana use during adolescence can cause functional and structural changes to the developing brain, leading to damage. Use in this age group is strongly linked to dependence and other substance use disorders; the start and continual use of tobacco smoking; an increased presence of mental illness; and diminished school performance.1
- Marijuana use has been shown to impair functions such as attention, memory, learning and decision-making. These effects can last for days after use.2
"It is the life work of pediatricians to care for our children," said Dr. Burey.
"We hope that the Premier and the Health Minister will listen and act. We are offering our expertise to help. They just need to call."
The Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario represents the province's 1400 pediatricians. As their newly relaunched website says, they are Children's Specialists for Life. http://www.pedsontario.com/
1 Cannabis and Canada's children and youth. Canadian Paediatric Society. Posted: May 3 2017. Available at: www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/cannabis-children-and-youth
2 Marijuana and the developing brain. American Psychological Association. November 2015, Vol 46, No. 10. Available at: www.apa.org/monitor/2015/11/marijuana-brain.aspx
SOURCE Pediatrician's Alliance of Ontario
For further information: For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Yamashiro or Dr. Burey: Sean Mallen-cell 416-602-9772 firstname.lastname@example.org; Victoria Ollers-cell 416-822-2288 email@example.com