More than five years ago, cannabis was legalized in Canada under federal legislation, making it more accessible to the public for non-medical and recreational use, beginning at age 18. Cannabis edibles, including gummies and candies, which are known to be more appealing to youth and young adults, were also legalized in three provinces including British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta.

Given the available data following legalization, Alberta’s government is working with drug policy experts, doctors, and professors to examine the impacts of cannabis on youth, defined as those 25 and under.

“We owe it to young Albertans and their families to make sure we fully understand the effects of legal cannabis. We’re proud to bring together this group of respected health experts to provide insight and advice as we continue to navigate this evolving area of health care.”

Dan Williams, Minister of Alberta Mental Health and Addiction

“As cannabis products have become more widely available, we must continue to evaluate their health impacts – particularly on young people whose brains are still developing. I look forward to working with leading experts from around the world to closely examine the evidence and help inform decisions in the best interest of Albertans.”

Blair Gibbs, former advisor to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and policy consultant

Alberta’s government is providing a one-time grant of about $280,000 to conduct a review of the available evidence and data regarding the impacts of cannabis use on youth. With this review, Alberta is convening leading experts from the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, Dalhousie University, Harvard Medical School, and the University of Birmingham.

Following the review, evidence collected could inform future policy changes in Alberta and recommend policy changes to ensure children and youth are protected from the harms of cannabis.

 Research experts

  • Blair Gibbs, former advisor to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and policy consultant
  • Dr. Sebastian Straube, professor and division director, Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta
  • Dr. Philip Tibbo, professor in the Department of Psychiatry with a cross-appointment in Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University
  • Dr. Charl Els, fellowship-trained addiction psychiatrist and occupational physician, clinical professor, Department of Psychiatry and Medicine, University of Alberta
  • Dr. Emily Hennessy, associate director of Biostatistics, Recovery Research Institute and assistant professor, Harvard Medical School.
  • Dr. Victoria Burns, associate professor, University of Calgary, and director, University of Calgary Recovery Community and Recovery on Campus Alberta
  • Dr. Ed Day, United Kingdom government’s drug recovery champion and clinical reader in Addiction Psychiatry at the Institute for Mental Health at the University of Birmingham

Quick facts

  • It is anticipated that work funded by this grant will be completed in summer 2024.
  • The research team will report to the Minister of Mental Health and Addiction.
  • Albertans under 18 cannot legally buy or consume cannabis. This is the same as Alberta’s minimum age for purchasing and consuming alcohol and tobacco.
  • Alberta spends more than $1.55 billion annually on addiction and mental health care and supports, including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.
  • Any Albertan struggling with addiction or mental health challenges can contact 211 Alberta to connect with local services and virtual supports. 211 is free, confidential and available 24-7.

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