Interior Health adapting to legalized cannabis

Creating new challenges for IH staff, public health care facilities

Now that recreational cannabis is legal, Interior Health is facing a new set of challenges.

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 at the Interior Health board meeting on Tuesday.

Aaron Miller, IH corporate director, population health, told 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.

When addressing those challenges, more questions than answers arise as government policy on legalized cannabis continues to evolve, Miller acknowledged.

While cannabis now falls under the same legalized category as tobacco and alcohol, Miller said 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

IH board director Dennis Rounsville asked Miller 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 explained that the rules will likely change in the months and years ahead.

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.”



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

Just Posted

Revelstoke City Council approves replacement of $160,000 snow removal machine

It is one of three scheduled to be replaced over the next five years

Revelstoke could further delay byelection to save funds

It’s been roughly eight months since Steven Cross left city council

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce celebrates 125 years

The organization has outlasted 16 Canadian prime ministers

Netflix star Francesca Farago seen hanging in the Okanagan

Farago got her big break as a reality TV star in Netflix’s ‘Too Hot to Handle’ in 2020

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Peachland resident finds severed bear paw on driveway

Tracie Gordon thought it was a Halloween prank, but it turned out to be a real bear paw

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Most Read