What Ottawa Public Health has been doing in preparation for the legalization of non-medical cannabis


Over the past month, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has been implementing its plan aimed at preventing cannabis use, particularly among youth, encouraging lower-risk use, supporting users wanting to reduce or quit, and protecting  others from the second-hand effects.



The plan has four priority areas:

1) Population-based health promotion and prevention;

2) Health protection;

3) Early Identification and treatment; and

4) Surveillance.

OPH has continued its work under the 4-point cannabis plan in preparation of October 17. Activities have included:

  • Supporting parents to have meaningful conversations with teens.

OPH is collaborating with Ottawa school boards and school-based partners to deliver eight parent sessions across the City and will be distributing resources to parents, including the Cannabis TalkKit, and parent factsheet, which is available in English, French, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Arabic and Somali.

As of October 15, OPH’s targeted public education campaigns have reached over 76,000 people through social media advertisements.

OPH anticipates bus, bar and restaurant advertisements will be viewed 10 million times during the campaign duration.

In collaboration with local post-secondary institutions, OPH distributed nearly 15,000 resources to young adults on campus on the subject of cannabis responsible use.

Since September 17, OPH has also leveraged earned media in print and on local radio and television outlets in both languages by providing more than 40 interviews and written responses to media regarding cannabis legalization.

  • Collaborating with Maison Fraternité and Services Access to Recovery to increase awareness of mental health and addiction resources to assist people who may need help with their cannabis use.
  • Publishing local surveillance data on cannabis use and related health outcomes in Ottawa and undertaking enhanced surveillance immediately following legalization to assess the health impacts of cannabis legalization in Ottawa, in collaboration with relevant partners.
  • Supporting the City’s coordinated approach, including integrating public health messaging, providing resources to support enforcement and integrating healthy public policy into municipal approaches.

Over the next month, OPH will focus on extending the reach of the Blunt Fact and Toke Joke health promotion campaigns, enhancing surveillance following legalization, collaborating with City partners, and building capacity of youth intermediaries and youth leaders that support peer-to-peer groups in schools to address mental health and substance use.

Also related to this work, on October 8, 2018, the Medical Officer of Health submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care pertaining to amendments to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 and on October 12, 2018, she submitted recommendations to the Standing Committee on Social Policy pertaining to Bill 36, Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018.