Capacity building for health professionals on cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids

Implementing Organization
World Health Organization

Using the WHO materials on the health and social effects of nonmedical cannabis use, this intervention seeks to build the capacity of health professionals to address the public health dimensions of cannabis use. 


International drug policy dialogues have given increased attention to public health dimensions of cannabis use and related disorders as well as synthetic cannabinoids. There is an increasing demand for effective strategies and interventions for cannabis use, particularly among youth. With a growing acceptance of cannabis use for medical and non-medical purposes, there is a strong demand for reliable information on the health consequences of cannabis use and the nature and outcomes of cannabis use disorders to inform prevention programs.  

Synthetic cannabinoids have different clinical signs of acute intoxication and short- and long-term health consequences of use. As people using synthetic cannabinoids increasingly seek treatment through health services, it is of growing importance to ensure health professionals understand how to identify, treat, and address use of cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids. 

The health and social effects of non-medical cannabis use  

Accomplishments to Date

During the last four years WHO has updated its publication on “The health and social effects of non-medical cannabis use” with overview of current knowledge on impact of non-medical cannabis use on health. The publication is expected to be followed by series of capacity building activities in countries where cannabis regulations are high on the agenda and serve as a tool for training programs on public health dimensions of cannabis use.   

Project Activities
  1. Policy dialogues for parliamentarians, other policy- and decision-makers as well as representatives of media outlets focused on health risks associated with cannabis use and implications for national policies and regulations. 
  2. Capacity building activities (training workshops) for personnel involved in prevention of drug use and treatment of drug use disorders and associated health conditions. 
  3. Development of derivative/additional information products on cannabis and health and their adaptation to the national contexts. 
  4. Support for development or an update of training materials on health consequences of cannabis for inclusion in the national prevention and awareness raising activities. 
Global Level Outcomes

Revised and adapted training manual on public health dimensions of cannabis use. 

National Level Outcomes
  1. Increased awareness of health consequences and risks of cannabis use among policy- and decision-makers, representatives of media, health professionals. 
  2. Increased capacity of health professionals to advocate for effective regulations and prevention strategies to protect health of populations from the health risks and harms associated with cannabis use. 
  3. Training materials and information products on public health dimensions of cannabis use adapted to national context. 
  4. Strengthening public health perspectives in drug policy dialogues focused on cannabis and regulation of cannabis-based products. 

Current State Participants 

New Initiative


Vladimir Poznyak (poznyakv [at] who [dot] int (poznyakv[at]who[dot]int)) Dzmitry Krupchanka (krupchankad [at] who [dot] int (krupchankad[at]who[dot]int))