Press Release


There’s so much information out there about the potential dangers of cannabis use for young people’s developing brains and their mental health. How can youth cut through the noise and find information they can trust?

The Cannabis and Psychosis: Explore the Link project is all about making the science accessible and showcasing young people’s perspectives, creativity and experience.

We want to know what you think!

Join us in spreading the news and help us shape our media campaign!

Our aim is to promote balanced, comprehensive, youth friendly information on the link between cannabis use and psychosis and other mental health concerns.

How can you get involved?

Do you have experiences and perspectives you’d like to share?

Be a part of our National Youth Advisory Committee!

We are seeking Youth, and Community Advisors to help shape and inform the project’s messages and outputs. The project offers an opportunity to get together with youth from across Canada to create a national public education campaign to help young people make informed choices about cannabis. Honoraria offered.



[email protected]



National Project Engages Diverse Youth to Raise Awareness of Potential Risks of Cannabis Use for Mental Health

Winnipeg, Manitoba – May 6, 2019 – Since the legalization and regulation of cannabis last year, the industry has evolved rapidly.  Researchers, clinicians, and mental health advocates are concerned about the mixed messages along with the competitive nature of how cannabis products are being marketed.  Confusion exists as to the usefulness of CBD and the risks of THC, especially as it relates to child, adolescent, and young adult brain development.

With the upcoming roll out by Health Canada of regulations surrounding edible cannabis, cannabis extracts, and cannabis topicals (which include food, drinks and vaping products containing cannabis), understanding the evidence linking cannabis with the risk of developing psychosis is increasingly important.  Canadian youth are among the highest cannabis users worldwide.  One in five teens between the ages of 15-19 has used cannabis within the last year.  Mental health professionals and the Schizophrenia Society of Canada (SSC) are particularly concerned about promoting awareness and understanding of the link between cannabis use and psychosis, especially for those under age 25 and their family members. 

Dr. Candice Crocker, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University, emphasized, “There are two big concerns with the use of edibles.  The first is the delayed time to the start of the high.  Edibles present their own unique health and safety risks and most of these products contain more than one serving.  30 minutes to 2 hours is how long it typically takes for effects to begin after cannabis is ingested, but full effects can take up to 4 hours to be felt.  Not realizing this and taking too many servings of edibles has been associated with emergency department visits in other legalized jurisdictions such as Colorado.  The emergency department visit can be for a range of things from extreme anxiety to cardiovascular symptoms.  The second concern is children.  Once out of the package, edible cannabis looks like any other food and accidental poisoning of children (and pets) can occur.  Children’s bodies cannot handle the adult serving and, just like other cannabis products, repeated exposure in children can affect brain development.  Similar to any substance that causes intoxication, “use responsibly” would be the message I would advocate for.”

The Schizophrenia Society of Canada has received a contribution from Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program for a three-year youth engagement and public health awareness project promoting harm reduction and informed decision-making for diverse youth and those who may be at greater risk of the harms of cannabis.  Phase three of SSC’s Cannabis and Psychosis: Explore the Link (, will engage broadly with stakeholders, including educational partners and other national mental health organizations to ensure that the content is up-to-date, relevant, inclusive and engaging to youth across Canada.  A robust social media campaign will be a central component of this participatory project informed by the input of a National Youth Advisory Committee.

Catherine Willinsky, Project Manager at the Schizophrenia Society of Canada remarked, “Young people have always faced mixed messages about the potential risks of cannabis use, and with the changing landscape legalization is bringing about, there’s so much more information and misinformation to navigate.”  Willinsky added, “With this project we’re engaging young people in conversations about their perceptions and experiences of cannabis and making science-based information accessible and relevant to a variety of youth audiences.”

Featuring the most current research-informed evidence, along with young people’s lived experience with cannabis use and psychosis, this resource will empower youth and emerging adults with education and prevention resources.   


“I applaud the Schizophrenia Society of Canada for taking on this incredible initiative to engage with young people on the harms of cannabis use. Canadian youth are looking for balanced information on the health effects of cannabis and the real facts about its impact on mental health. These new evidence-based tools will help youth develop their cannabis literacy and guide them in making informed decisions about their own health.”
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health


« Je félicite la Société canadienne de schizophrénie d’avoir entrepris cette incroyable initiative pour sensibiliser les jeunes aux méfaits de la consommation de cannabis. Les jeunes Canadiens recherchent des informations équilibrées quant aux effets du cannabis sur la santé et des faits réels sur ses conséquences pour la santé mentale. Ces nouveaux outils fondés sur des données probantes aideront les jeunes à parfaire leurs connaissances sur le cannabis et à prendre des décisions éclairées au sujet de leur propre santé. »

L’honorable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Ministre de la Santé


Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada said, “We understand that there are competing messages about the risks and safe use of cannabis, and we respect the diversity of thought.  However, this is not a benign issue and cannabis is not a benign substance.  It is a mind-altering drug and risk is a real thing when it comes to cannabis.  This initiative seeks to increase knowledge of the impacts of consuming cannabis for those age 25 and under, not only on their mental health, but for their education and social life too. This means preventing or delaying the onset of use to reduce the likelihood of harm and problematic use and encouraging a culture of safer use.”  Summerville added, “We want to equip youth and young adults with the knowledge and resources to ‘start the conversation’ about cannabis use and how it can affect the still-developing brain.  It’s all about an informed understanding about the risks of cannabis use and links to psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.  We know prevention and early intervention approaches can reduce the onset and even the course of psychotic disorders.”


Some of the key research findings highlighted on the ‘Cannabis and Psychosis: Explore the Link’ website:

  • The median age of starting cannabis use was 17-years-old for both males and females in 2015.
  • Cannabis use impacts psychosis, which is a break from reality characterized by hallucinations, delusions, impaired thinking and lack of motivation.
  • Regular cannabis use can impact the development of a chronic life-long psychotic disorder in at-risk individuals and is associated with an earlier age of onset of psychosis.
  • Cannabis use can prevent or hinder recovery in individuals already diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.
  • THC content has increased from 1.5% in 1970 to 28% in 2018.

Three percent of the population will experience psychosis.  Nearly one percent of the population will develop schizophrenia, which affects a person’s ability to discern reality from non-reality.  Young men typically develop the illness in their late teens, while young women often develop it in their early-to-mid 20s. 

The opinions and interpretations in the Cannabis and Psychosis: Explore the Link website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


For more information, please contact:

Dr. Chris Summerville

Chief Executive Officer

Schizophrenia Society of Canada

Office: 204.786.1616, Mobile: 204.223.9158

[email protected]

Nicole Harris 

Maverick Media Solutions

Mobile: 204.470.4555

[email protected]

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