New Brunswick

Drug addiction youth worker witness to negative effects of cannabis use

The program manager at Portage Atlantic says he sees the negative effects of cannabis every day in the patients living at the centre and hopes the kids realize that legal doesn't equal safe.

Luc Desjardins says he sees the negative effects of cannabis daily at drug addiction rehabilitation centre

Luc Desjardins says youth with addiction issues stay at Portage for four to six months. He conducted an informal survey of people staying at the centre asking how many had used cannabis prior to treatment, and the result was all had. (CBC)

The program manager at Portage Atlantic, a non-profit organization that operates a residential drug addiction rehabilitation centre for youths between the ages of 14 and 21 says he sees the negative effects of cannabis every day in the patients living at the centre. 

"Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's not dangerous," Luc Desjardins said.

Many people are able to consume cannabis safely, but some individuals do experience health effects, and doctors say it's impossible to predict how any one individual will react to the drug

Luc Desjardins is the program manager at Portage Atlantic, a non-profit organization that operates a residential drug addiction rehabilitation centre for youths between the ages of 14 and 21. (CBC)

The federal government has said it wants to continue to monitor how Canadians of all ages are using the drug after it is legalized. Research has shown that regular cannabis use can re-wire the brain in younger users.

And Desjardins thinks its important that schools and parents make sure children and teens know it.

"It's easier than getting alcohol, it's everywhere."

More funding

Desjardins said he isn't sure what restrictions can be put in place to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people, but he says he's sure legalization won't put his non-profit organization out of business.

"Alcohol is legal for many many years and youth still drink and start to drink at a young age. I don't see a difference." 

In Canada cannabis will be legal as of Oct. 17. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

At Portage, in Cassidy Lake, Desjardins said patients stay at least four months and some as long as six months. During their stay, they work on life skills and getting their confidence back.

"They lost themselves, so when they arrive here it's to discover who they are."  

Cannabis will be legalized in Canada on Oct. 17. When it happens, Desjardins said he hopes all levels of governments will give more funding to addiction programs.

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