We wish you a Merry Cannabis!

Nearly 50% of British Columbians have tried cannabis at some point in their lives for a variety of different reasons. As we have highlighted in this latest CARBC blog series, the landscape of cannabis is changing both in Canada and internationally. More evidence is emerging about the potential benefits of cannabis and several US states have begun to legalize and regulate cannabis consumption in a similar way to alcohol. However, cannabis is not risk free and finding the balance between benefit and harm will continue to be an ongoing challenge for researchers, policy makers and cannabis consumers alike.

Over the last seven weeks we have discussed many different facets of cannabis use.  Our guest blogger from the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC) demonstrated some of the complexities of changing cannabis regulation in Canada.  The post on changes to the medical marijuana regulations in Canada is a good illustration of some of these complexities and it spoke to the potential benefits and barriers of these changes for those using and producing cannabis for medical purposes.  Despite the challenges of changing cannabis policy, there have still been concerted efforts made by organizations such Sensible BC, who launched a campaign this past fall to gain enough public support to put decriminalization of cannabis to a referendum vote.  The campaign fell short of the required number of signatures so decriminalization of cannabis in BC is off the table for now. However, it will be interesting to watch how the reality of legalization unfolds in places such as Washington State and Colorado, as there are still many hurdles for them to overcome.

The blog series also highlighted the growing body of evidence about the positive applications of cannabis. For example, there is new research showing that cannabis may be an effective and less harmful substitution for other drugs. Further, we heard first-hand about the benefits of using cannabis to manage symptoms of chronic illness. On the other hand, it is important to bear in mind that there are potential risks associated with cannabis use such as the links between cannabis and psychosis and dangers associated with driving under the influence of cannabis. There are, however, ways of mitigating these risks and two of our posts provided some very practical recommendations for how to lower your risk from cannabis use, as well as how to communicate safe practices with young people.

A big thank you to all of our guest bloggers for their fantastic contributions to this latest CARBC blog series and thanks also to our readers for engaging in this topic and for your thoughtful comments and feedback.

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Have you ever wondered what the term “Harm Reduction” means and what it looks like in practice? We are excited to announce that the next CARBC blog series starting in January 2014 will feature an amazing line up of guest bloggers who are experts in the field of harm reduction in BC and across Canada.

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