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Growing knowledge

Webinar series keeping the cannabis conversation rolling

By Marcia Porter

After more than a year of evaluating provincial cannabis policy and conducting focus groups and surveys in Newfoundland and Labrador, Memorial researchers have come away with two important insights.

Logo with green cannabis leaf under magnifying glass, beside text that says CHERP in large print over smaller text that reads, Cannabis Health Evaluation and Research Partnership

Drs. Jennifer Donnan and Lisa Bishop from the School of Pharmacy and Dr. Maisam Najafizada in the Faculty of Medicine led the work.

Register and attend

First, people of all ages and backgrounds want to be more informed about using cannabis safely. Second, their research partnership goes well beyond evaluating.

The group formerly known as Partnerships for Cannabis Policy – N.L., has adopted a new name: Cannabis Health Evaluation and Research Partnership (CHERP). To keep the conversation rolling, they’re launching a webinar series titled Cannabis Crossroads: Growing Knowledge and Weeding out Misinformation .

The sessions begin Oct. 6, and bring together panels of experts to share their unique perspectives. You can register and select which sessions you’d like to attend.

Dr. Jennifer Donnan has long dark hair.
Dr. Jennifer Donnan
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“We’ve spent a lot of time talking to citizens and various stakeholders over the past year about the impacts of cannabis legalization,” said Dr. Donnan, one of CHERP’s principal investigators.

“There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation out there and we want to generate discussion around how to access and consume cannabis safely.”

Some of the misinformation to be addressed in the webinars organized by CHERP staff member Dina Gaid include beliefs that cannabis does not impair driving; that legal cannabis is of poor quality and expensive; and that cannabis can be used as a cure-all that comes with little or no risks.

Oct. 6 start

The webinar series begins Oct. 6 with Access to Safe Cannabis. It’s a panel discussion for the general public featuring a conversation with a licensed cannabis retailer, a representative the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, the local regulatory body for cannabis, and a U.S.-based management professor with Newfoundland roots and an expertise in international cannabis policy.

“We wanted to start with Access to Safe Cannabis, because that’s an issue we’ve heard about repeatedly over the past year, from people of all demographics,” said Dr. Bishop, who is also a principal investigator on CHERP.

“Consumers want to know that products are safe and of good quality, and we want to make sure they have access to the best quality information.”

Variety of topics

Dr. Lisa Bishop has shoulder length blonde hair and blue eyes.
Dr. Lisa Bishop
Photo: Submitted

The series has sessions on timely and controversial topics, including Cannabis Use in the Workplace on Oct. 20, which looks at issues, for example, around zero tolerance and the barriers it can create for people who consume cannabis daily for medical reasons.

The Nov. 3 webinar, Cannabis Use and Driving highlights evidence around cannabis impairment, and how it’s detected and enforced, drawing on research by the School of Pharmacy and information from law enforcement.

The final session, Information about Medical Cannabis on Nov. 17, is an accredited continuing education event for health-care professionals, many of whom say that a lack of training and difficulty keeping on top of changing evidence is a major barrier to supporting patients trying to access medical cannabis.

Dr. Maisam Najafizada has short dark hair and brown eyes
Dr. Maisam Najafizada
Photo: Submitted

“By helping to advance evidence-based discussions and raise awareness of key issues, we hope to facilitate informed dialogue that can influence policy development,” said Dr. Najafizada, who is also a principal investigator for CHERP.

“There’s a real need for high quality, accurate information for consumers, the general public, health-care providers and policy-makers.”

If you’re interested in learning more about CHERP, find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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