Advocacy and Education: Knowledge Translation Activities in Response to Cannabis Legalization.

Poster A77, Monday, October 8, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Heather Hobbs1, Suzanne Archie2, Sarah Bromley3, Chiachen Cheng4, Carole Lem5; 1EPION (Early Psychosis Intervention Ontario Network)

Background: Following Fall 2015 elections, the Canadian government fulfilled an election promise, tabling legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis. The Cannabis Act was passed by the House of Commons in November 2017 with legalization proposed by summer 2018. Research into cannabis use raises significant concerns regarding youth mental health, including the increased risk of psychosis associated with early regular cannabis use, the link to higher amounts of THC used by Canadian youth, and the risk of relapse with continued use after a first episode of psychosis. EPION (Early Psychosis Intervention Ontario Network) supports education, training, and networking among some 50 early psychosis programs in Ontario. Programs expressed concern as to how to prepare for impending legalization. EPION responded by arranging specific knowledge translation (KT) activities. Purpose: This presentation describes the KT activities undertaken by EPION to inform policymakers and EPI programs regarding research knowledge linking psychosis and regular cannabis use among vulnerable youth. These activities included: a ‘Cannabis and Psychosis’ Think Tank involving some 185 clinicians, clients, families, and policymakers; an EPION position paper sent to the federal and provincial governments with recommendations regarding minimum age, prevention and harm reduction strategies; EPION representation at the provincial Attorney General’s Stakeholder Roundtable, and the production of educational materials for youth, family members and clinicians emphasizing critical messages about the risks. Conclusions: These KT activities will enable increased dissemination of research knowledge surrounding the association between cannabis use and psychosis among vulnerable young people, and help prepare EPI programs as legalization becomes reality.

Topic Area: First Episode Psychosis

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