Article by Angela Stelmakowich, Growth Op
A team of researchers headed by Professor Antony Chum of Brock University plan to put federal funding to good use by determining why there’s been an increase in substance use-related hospitalizations in certain jurisdictions, especially among youth, since recreational cannabis got the green light two years ago.
With funding from the federal government’s Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Chum, an assistant professor of health sciences, and his team, will generally consider how Canadian cannabis policies can lead to better regulations of weed’s use and potency, notes a university statement.
With regard to substance use-related hospitalizations, researchers will consider if different policies — including “dry” jurisdictions, availability of edibles and the number of retail licences issued — “account for differences in emergency department visits and hospitalizations in Ontario, Alberta and Yukon.”
Those between the ages of 10 to 24 appear to be at most risk for these sorts of ER visits, Chum points out. And while most incidents do not require hospitalization, a minor number do, he says.
While cannabis was identified as leading to 11 per cent of substance use-related hospitalizations in 2018, Chum reports that the percentage for the 10- to 24-year-old group was far higher, at 40 per cent.
“Our research is really about trying to understand populations at risk and the factors that can reduce the risk for these vulnerable populations,” he notes. Those at risk higher risk for cannabis-related acute care include people with psychiatric disorders, those with a lack of access to primary care and Northern populations.
A study published before legalization found that between 2006 and 2015, the rate of cannabis-related hospitalizations in the country doubled. “Of special note, however, is that hospitalizations during this time period for those with the clinical condition code ‘mental and behavioural disorders due to use of cannabinoids, psychotic disorder’ tripled, accounting for almost half (48 per cent) of all cannabis-related hospitalizations in 2015,” the study adds.
This summer, Health Canada issued an advisory cautioning parents to avoid using illegal cannabis edibles and keeping any legal products properly stored and out of the hands of children who might regard it regular candy or treats.