Interior Health adapting to legalized cannabis

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

A Keremeos family lost their home after a fire shortly before midnight on April 13. No injuries were reported. (Contributed)
Keremeos home destroyed in late-night fire

The family inside was unharmed

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

Campfires are allowed within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, but open burning season comes to an end April 15 at midnight. (Black Press file photo)
Open burning season ends in Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen

Campfires are permitted, following provincial guidelines

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Name is spelled incorrectly

For 100 years, the Garnett name has been spelled incorrectly as Garnet

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Development will start disintegration of Summerland

I am in favour of affordable housing but voting for a rezoning does not address this serious issue

Arlene Howe holds up a picture of her son, Steven, at a memorial event for drug overdose victims and their families at Kelowna’s Rotary Beach Park on April 14. Steven died of an overdose at the age of 32 on Jan. 31, 2015. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
Moms Stop the Harm members placed crosses Wednesday morning, April 14, on Rotary Beach in memory of children lost to drug overdoses. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Kelowna mothers remember children lost to the opioid crisis

It has been five years since illicit drug deaths was announced a public health emergency

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

Naloxone
Op/Ed: Interior Health CEO speaks on five years of strides and challenges in overdose crisis

In 2020, close to 4,000 people across IH had access to opioid medications

Somewhere in the pack being celebrated by his teammates is Vernon Vipers forward Zack Tonelli, who scored in overtime Wednesday afternoon, April 14, to give the Snakes a 6-5 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in B.C. Hockey League pod play at Kal Tire Place. (Liza Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers bite Salmon Arm Silverbacks in OT

Snakes blow 5-3 third-period lead, rally in extra time for 6-5 pod play result over rivals

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Okanagan Falls Volunteer Fire Department, photo from Okanagan Falls Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page
The Okanagan Falls Volunteer Fire Department. (Facebook)
South Okanagan fire crews battle two blazes one-after-another

The two fires were likely caused by discarded cigarettes according to the fire department

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Most Read