As legalization looms and some parents begin to shed years of reefer madness and misinformation, many express concerns as to how their children will be affected.
A survey commissioned by Organigram, a licensed producer based in New Brunswick, asked 1005 Canadian parents with children under the age of 18 who live at home at least part-time what their views are when it comes to legalization.
Lack of information
Three out of five parents surveyed have concerns about legalization, and 54% feel that there is not enough information available about the risks of cannabis use.
30% of parents say they are “very prepared” to educate their child about cannabis, 12% stating that they have already discussed it thoroughly and another 12% saying they don’t plan on discussing it at all.
Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) created a comprehensive toolkit earlier this year to help parents and educators approach the topic of cannabis use in youth from a fact-based, open-minded perspective. Health Canada has also published a toolkit as a parental resource.
Top education priorities
The top responses for what parents want to be addressed include not driving under the influence (87%), the negative effects of cannabis (75%), how to turn down offers to try cannabis (75%), and the risks of combining cannabis with alcohol and other drugs (74%).
Other important information topics among parents are the comparative effects of different forms of cannabis (88%), research on cannabis as a gateway to “harder” drugs (84%), and cannabis use as a gateway to tobacco (74%).
Most trusted information source
Two out of three parents view physicians and health care professionals as the most trusted source for providing information to help educate children about cannabis and its appropriate use.
Parents in Atlantic Canada are most likely to support legalization and feel prepared to educate their children about cannabis.
Parents from Quebec are most likely to oppose legalization and feel unprepared to talk with their children about cannabis.
The cannabis conversation
A healthy dialogue around cannabis use needs a rebrand from traditional talks that focus on abstinence rather than education.
As with any drug or controlled substance, the point is not to encourage youth use but rather to provide a safe space for young people to get accurate information, ask questions, and have resources available about safe(r) consumption.