Will Canadian children be learning about cannabis this coming September?

Published Aug 19, 2019 12:00 p.m. ET
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Now that marijuana legalization is gearing up to head full force into the new year, it’s time that we started having some important conversations with our kids. While you might be spending the final weeks of summer trying to soak in every last ounce of fun in the sun, the reality is, it’s almost time to send the little ones off to school. This can be an exciting time, that is full of anticipation and hope. Your child is about to embark on a journey of self-discovery, and this will help to lay the foundation for their future endeavors.

With the hustle and bustle of back to school shopping, arranging for care, and everything else that goes with throwing life into an entirely different gear, it can be easy to forget some of the most essential tools. Tidbits of useful things that every child should know, which often get left forgotten in the rush. This is the very first year since marijuana legalization was introduced that we are expecting to see concentrated cannabis products on dispensary shelves; things that go far beyond the typical bud which contains a meager average of 20% THC.

No one would ever suggest discussing bongs or being stoned with a 5-year-old, but this new reality includes a wide range of manufactured cannabis infused products. Most of which will be kept far out of the hands of youth, but there is always going to be that one-off occasion where things don’t go entirely as planned. If you think that your own household is bong and cannabis free and there’s no need for concern, then you might want to think again.

One thing to clarify before things get out of hand is that marijuana products are entirely non-toxic. There is absolutely no need to worry about an overdose no matter how much might be consumed. However, there has been a rare occasion where kids have gotten into THC or CBD edibles or oils, which resulted in a long and uncomfortable couple of days’ worth of recovery. It is also worth mentioning that in the majority of cases where marijuana is accidentally consumed, even by children, very little is required beyond water and supervision to recuperate.

Now that we have that out of the way, it’s time to move onto a few critical points that every parent should know

1. Canadian curriculum does not currently include cannabis education of any kind. At any age, it’s only the usual rhetoric repeating do not touch! However, this method has been proven to be quite detrimental in history with marijuana as well as other recreational substances.

2. All legal cannabis products are currently required by law to display visible, prominent, label stickers to alert anyone around that it contains activated marijuana compounds.

3. Marijuana legalization allowed most Canadians to grow cannabis. A maximum of 4 plants per household and most provinces including Ontario allow for outdoor cultivation. These plants are not dangerous in anyway as raw plant material, but this is expected to make it easier for youth to obtain cannabis products.

4. Your children, as they age, will spend a great deal of time away from you. The chances of them running into marijuana products are incredibly slim, but if they do, don’t you want them to know how to deal with it?

5. As of now, there are absolutely no resources offered by the federal government to educate parents or their children on marijuana, which can make it challenging for parents who are inexperienced in this brand-new world of legal weed, who need direction.

How to educate children on marijuana legalization

Since this is such a fresh, new industry, no one is entirely certain of what works and what doesn’t. What we can do is use the information and power we have to guide our kids towards a positive direction that leads to a safe relationship and perspective surrounding cannabis. Here are a few things that you can do to educate your children well before and after they return to school in September.

1. Marijuana legalization made what was once an illegal substance a completely acceptable option. This means that as parents, we no longer have to hide our own personal consumption from our kids, which is an incredibly powerful thing. If they see you partaking responsibly, then they too will be much less likely to abuse cannabis products in the future. That doesn’t mean that you should pass them a bong and ask them to get stoned. Smoke, vapor and edibles should always be kept away from youth, but it is important that they see its use in an appropriate way.

2. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to research the labelling required in your area for marijuana products. Print off copies of them and use them as learning aids for both yourself and your kids.

3. Though we all aim to keep our kids out of the neighbor’s garden, it isn’t always an easy task. While cannabis plants might not be harmful, to many, they are an essential medicine. This is the reason why it is an excellent idea to teach your kids what weed plants look like, and it doesn’t have to be paired with any explanation other than to keep away. Some medical marijuana patients would be lost without their medicine, so the utmost respect of others medical needs is an excellent topic of choice depending on the child’s age.

4. Though it might seem a little bit extreme to some for a non-toxic element, some parents feel better knowing that their child knows where to turn to and exactly what to do if they ever come across or get offered cannabis products. The narrative of this conversation will shift as they age, but the idea will always stay the same. Consumption of infused or pure marijuana goods can be hazardous to the developing brain, and just like alcohol, it should be treated with the same kinds of respect.

5. If you want to see a real change, especially on the federal level, then you need to be sure that your voice is being heard. Though many Canadians are grateful for the opportunity to get stoned and self-medicate with this natural plant, the sheer amount of misinformation and lack of reliable resources is incredibly daunting to wade through without several hours of fact-checking behind you. It is time to push both your local and national governments for updated cannabis education in schools, alongside critical information that could help parents, kids and anyone else who finds themselves with a question that they can’t safely answer for themselves.

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