Widening the Cannabis Debate

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Dianova organized a side event at the CND64 on how to improve prevention and treatment programs for problematic cannabis use

Cannabis use

Cannabis (marijuana) can be particularly harmful to young people; talking to your children about it at an early age can help them make better choices and may prevent them from developing a problem with marijuana use later

By Lucía Goberna – The Commission on Narcotic Drugs has been debating issues related to the legal status of cannabis and the consequences of its use for years. It is undoubtedly a controversial issue on the political agenda. However, little has been said beyond this about how work should be done to improve prevention and treatment systems for problematic cannabis use, whatever its legal status.

It is the most widely used illicit drug in the world and is not one of the drugs whose problematic use has the most damaging health consequences, such as opiates.

However, data from the World Drug Report 2020 shows that consumption is not reducing and is, in fact, increasing in all regions. It also shows that there is a greater demand for access to treatment.

It is therefore necessary to investigate how prevention and treatment programmes can be better adapted at the design stage to their implementation, in order to make them more attractive and more effective. Dianova has organized similar events within its network and with professionals from the European Federation of Therapeutic Communities (EFTC) since the beginning of the year.

 

Within the framework of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, an online seminar took place on April 15 with many participants attending (up to 95 people were connected live) to discuss this topic.

The event was organized by Dianova International and supported by the European Federation of Therapeutic Communities (EFTC), the Rotary Action Group for Addiction Prevention (RAG AP) and the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD).

Access the video of the event  (access code: C5UP+W6A).

CND64

Programmes should be adapted to cannabis users and be made more attractive and effective

Study on addiction and public health risk

The event was moderated by Dianova International and featured four speakers. Firstly, Antonio Molina from the Complutense University of Madrid presented the main results of the Study on the Regulation and Legalization of the Therapeutic and Recreational Uses of Cannabis and their Addiction, Social and Health-Related Risks that he carried out for Dianova. He spoke of concerns surrounding: the problematic consumption among young people, the perception of consumption as being low risk, the need to work on campaigns on the prevention of cannabis consumption which address other types of consumption and/or risky behaviour, and the promotion of health and health education, amongst other things. He stressed the need to adapt prevention programmes to this population.

Prevention

Secondly, Heidi Heilman from RAG AP expressed her opinion on prevention. This is especially important considering that she comes from Massachusetts, a state where the recreational use of cannabis has been legalized. Heidi made a number of recommendations regarding primary prevention. For example, with regards to laws and regulations (such as limiting consumption to 21 years, funding programs to work on risk perception among young people and limiting the potency of THC content), the collection and monitoring of information (on the prevalence of consumption and demand for treatment, etc.), education on the risks of consumption and how consumption affects neuronal function and finally on the relationship with the media, especially where youths are concerned.

Treatment

To discuss treatment, Phaedon Kaloterakis from the EFTC discussed the importance of broadening the range of discussions on cannabis given the realities on the ground. In his speech, Phaedon stressed the need to improve the adaptation of treatment programmes for people with problematic cannabis consumption and proposed specific recommendations on how they can be adapted for young people experiencing problematic consumption.

Harm reduction

Finally, Ana Afuera from ENCOD put some figures for cannabis consumption and problematic cannabis use in context to give an insight into consumers’ perspectives. In her speech, Ana focused on how risk situations can and must be avoided, the promotion of safer methods of consumption, not associating consumption with daily activities, and the responsible control of quantities consumed, for example. Combining activism with a harm reduction outlook is key to ensuring improved services.

The public was quite interested in the topic and asked the speakers many questions. We at Dianova would like to thank the speakers for their contributions and we are pleased to bring together voices from different sectors to work towards a common goal: people’s well-being.