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Regulations must protect Canadians from misleading claims on health products containing cannabis, says CMA

​OTTAWA – February 5, 2018 – The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is advocating for regulations that protect Canadians from misleading claims on health products containing cannabis, and is urging the government to adopt a public health approach. The CMA's recommendations were presented to the federal government as part of its consultation on the proposed approach to the regulation of cannabis.

​The CMA is concerned that — despite being regulated by Health Canada — non-prescription drugs, natural health products, cosmetics and medical devices undergo different levels of scrutiny than prescription drugs. Many consumers may not be aware of this discrepancy. In addition, health claims made on these products are often not substantiated, as the industry isn't required to provide scientific evidence to back them up.

"Ensuring that health products are safe and effective must be a key component of any regulations on cannabis. We believe rigorous scientific evidence is needed to support claims of health benefits, and to identify potential risks and adverse reactions," says Dr. Laurent Marcoux, president of the CMA.

For the packaging and labelling of cannabis, the CMA recommends that government officials and health professionals — not cannabis producers or distributors — design the packaging, to emphasize the health risks associated with consumption. Like tobacco and cigarettes, cannabis packaging and labeling provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the health, social and economic harms of use, especially in youth.

In addition, the association maintains its position that only one system and one set of regulations should be in place for both medical and recreational cannabis, to avoid redundancy and disparity in regulations.

The CMA has consistently advocated for a public health approach in the legalization and regulation of cannabis. This includes public health promotion, harm reduction strategies, prevention of dependency and access to treatment.