Dr. Lisa Bishop and the DECYDE Program

Dr. Lisa Bishop became involved with CRISM in 2021 as one of the Key Participants in the CRISM Atlantic’s submission for CIHR Team Grant–CRISM Phase II. Dr. Bishop’s expertise in youth engagement in substance use strategies,1-4  cannabis policy evaluation,5,6 and opioid stewardship7-9 is a great addition to the CRISM Atlantic Node.  Dr. Bishop is co-chair (along with Dr. Nick Harris—Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN)), of the CRISM Atlantic Node Youth and Substance Use Working Group.  

Cannabis Legalization in Canada and its Impact on Youth

The 2018 Cannabis Act 10 aimed to protect public health and safety and included a particular focus on protecting youth. Although there was good intention raise awareness through public education and awareness efforts, there is a gap in education efforts for youth. This lack of consistency in cannabis education for youth that is often focused on risk-based messaging that does not resonate with youth.11
Dr. Lisa Bishop, Professor of Pharmacy, MUN. In addition to her academic research, her work in a family practice clinic in St. John’s, NL contributes to her recognition of the need for drug health literacy and age-appropriate educational resources.
This shortcoming attracted the attention of Dr. Lisa Bishop, a Professor in the School of Pharmacy at MUN.  With support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), their Cannabis Health Evaluation and Research Partnership (CHERP) team explored the impact of cannabis legalization on young people. Through focus groups with youth aged 13-25 across Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), they sought to gain a better understanding of the impact of cannabis legalization on youth, with respect to access, driving, and education needs. The findings regarding their education need were published in 2022 and revealed the need for interactive, evidence-informed education using harm reduction principles and integrated early in the educational timeline.1 Through this qualitative research, concerning behaviors and attitudes were also noted by youth regarding driving while under the influence of cannabis. This underscores the necessity for educational initiatives tailored to youth, aimed at providing them with effective decision-making strategies concerning road safety. Their work was published in 2022.12

"One thing that we discovered was that there is a lack of education for youth in particular around cannabis. And we really need to educate them to make those informed and safe choices throughout their youth and as they grow into adults.”

In order to capture the cannabis educational resources for youth across Canada, their team carried out a scoping review and environmental scan. As detailed in their 2023 publication, while there are existing drug education programs across the country, many still emphasize abstinence messaging, lack widespread implementation in schools, and most operate on an opt-in basis for participation2. In 2022-23 their team also conducted a survey with educators in NL to explore their attitudes, needs, and preferences regarding delivering harm reduction, substance use education. Educators expressed support for this form of education but expressed a lack of readiness to address it with students. The results highlighted the necessity for educator training in harm reduction substance use education, aiming to empower educators in guiding students to make informed decisions concerning substance use.


The CHERP team has developed the DECYDE (Drug Education Centred on Youth Decision Empowerment) education strategy for youth in grades 4 to 12. Their vision is to empower youth to make safe and informed choices regarding their substance use health. DECYDE provides evidence-based, harm reduction, and trauma-informed substance use information and resources for educators, youth, and parents/guardians.

“Our goal for DECYDE is to support educators in delivering drug education, empower youth to make safe and informed choices, and provide guardians with information that can guide conversations with youth.”

Dr. Bishop is passionate about providing substance use education to you. “Protecting youths’ health and safety is our utmost concern, and our DECYDE strategy is focused on enhancing youth’s substance use health literacy and decision-making abilities, with a goal to protect their health and safety.”

They have created an open-access DECYDE website (www.DECYDE.ca) that contains lesson plans that are mapped to the NL health outcomes. It also contains other supporting materials that can be used by anyone who is interested in youth substance use health. This includes substance snapshots of common substances, harm reduction resources, research publications, and mental health and addiction supports.

DECYDE is co-led by Dr. Bishop and Dr. Jennifer Donnan in partnership with NL Health Services. They have an extensive team of researchers, staff, and students along with collaboration from youth, teachers, parents/guardians, stakeholders, and people with lived and living experience.


“We value the input from our Youth Advisory Panel and individuals with lived and living experience. We heard from youth that they want drug education that is factual, interactive, and non-judgmental, and they want to hear from people with lived and living experience. They also want the education to start young and have it repeated and built on every year.”

DECYDE is still being developed with new resources being added frequently. They will be piloting the lessons plans and materials with teachers in 2024 and they encourage others to provide feedback on the posted materials through the feedback form on the website. Visit the DECYDE website at https://decyde.ca/ for more information.

DECYDE has received financial support from Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP), the Janeway Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.


  1. LD Bishop, DH Drakes, JR Donnan, EC Rowe, M Najafizada. Exploring Youths’ Cannabis Health Literacy Post Legalization: A Qualitative Study. (2022). Journal of Adolescent Research, https://doi.org/10.1177/07435584221118380
  2. Howe, E.J., Bishop, L.D., Torraville, B.S., Rowe, E.C., Kinzel, E., & Donnan, J.R. (2023). Canadian cannabis education resources to support youth health literacy: A scoping review and environmental scan. Health Education Journal, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/00178969231191085
  3. Dalton, K., Bishop, L., & Darcy, S. (2021). Investigating interventions that lead to the highest treatment retention for emerging adults with substance use disorder: A systematic review. Addictive Behaviors, 122, 107005. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2021.107005
  4. Dunne, R., Bishop, L., Avery, S., & Darcy, S. (2017) A review of effective youth engagement strategies for mental health and substance use interventions. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60, 487-512. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.11.019
  5. Cannabis Health Evaluation Research Partnership. (2023). Helping to develop cannabis policy in NL: Prioritizing Public Health and Safety. Evidence to Policy Symposium, March 22, 2023 Summary Report. Memorial University. St. John’s, NL. Canada. June 2023
  6. Nguyen, H. V., Bornstein, S., Gamble, J.-M., Mathews, M., Bishop, L., & Mital, S. (2020). Too young for Cannabis? Choice of minimum legal age for legalized non-medical Cannabis in Canada. BMC Public Health20(1), 557–557. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-08639-z
  7. Bishop LD, Rosenberg-Yunger ZRS, Dattani S. Pharmacists’ perceptions of the Canadian opioid regulatory exemptions on patient care and opioid stewardship. Canadian Pharmacists Journal. November 2021; 154 (6):394-404. https://doi.org/10.1177/17151635211034530
  8. Bishop LD, Rosenberg-Yunger ZRS. Pharmacists expanded role in providing care for opioid use disorder during COVID-19: A qualitative study exploring pharmacists’ experiences. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2022 Jan 10; 232:109303. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109303
  9. Gondora, N., Versteeg, S. G., Carter, C., Bishop, L. D., Sproule, B., Turcotte, D., Halpape, K., Beazely, M. A., Dattani, S., Kwong, M., Nissen, L., & Chang, F. (2022). The role of pharmacists in opioid stewardship: A scoping review. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy18(5), 2714–2747. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sapharm.2021.06.018
  10. Branch L. S. (2023). Consolidated federal laws of Canada, Cannabis Act. Justice Laws Website. https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-24.5/FullText.html
  11. Watson T. M., Valleriani J., Hyshka E., Rueda S. (2019). Cannabis legalization in the provinces and territories: Missing opportunities to effectively educate youth? Canadian Journal of Public Health, 110(4), 472–475. https://doi.org/10.17269/s41997-019-00209-0
  12. Donnan, J.R., Drakes D.H., Bishop L.D., Rowe E.C., & Najafizada, M. (2022) Driving under the influence of cannabis: Perceptions from Canadian youth.BMC Public Health 22, 2384. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-022-14658-9