What and why Canadian schools should be teaching children about cannabis

Published Jun 9, 2019 09:41 a.m. ET
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Some people will read the title of this article and automatically take offense to the idea that their children should be subject or privy to any marijuana plant knowledge, but the truth is that as long as they are taught the right things, this type of lesson can only benefit their futures and ours. No one is suggesting that we start lessons in public school on how to smoke marijuana, or how to navigate cannabis dispensaries, but could lessons on how to grow marijuana and other finer aspects like the produced elements, nutrients, and benefits possibly have any adverse effect? Is it better to keep our kids in the dark, and hope that someday, as we did, they come across the information themselves?

The truth is that this is an entirely new ballgame, and none of us are sure on how exactly we should be moving forward as a society that has suddenly legalized a substance that was long ignored and for many, even feared. It makes sense that we would move forward with caution and try our best to set a firm footing for our children who will exist in an entirely different world than you and I could have ever imagined. Though it might not be a great idea to teach our kids how to smoke marijuana, there are a significant number of lessons that should be covered in Canadian schools, long before college. Here is a list of ten different aspects that our educators should be teaching our kids moving forward. For their health and safety, and the betterment of the entire world’s view on marijuana use.

1. Recognizing cannabis product labeling
In Canada, there are strict rules and regulations that state which types of stickers and labels must be added to marijuana products of any kind. The main symbol that should be easily recognizable for people of all ages, but especially by children is the pot leaf. Once children are familiar with this symbol, it will help them to know to avoid these types of products which can help to decrease the number of accidental ingestion cases seen right across the country.

2. Safe handling and or disposal of marijuana products
Once children are familiar with the pot leaf symbol, the next step should be guidance on how to safely handle and or dispose of cannabis products. Younger kids should be instructed to seek an adult for assistance if they come into contact or find a package of any type with this label, and older children can be taught how to handle safely and or dispose of these items if they come across them in random places like public areas or parks.

3. The endocannabinoid system
As early as grade two Canadians right across the country are taught about the basics of human body anatomy, which tends to include some of the most essential components like the nervous system. Though this knowledge is necessary, it should be just as important to teach kids about the endocannabinoid system, and the critical role it plays in keeping our whole body healthy. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating just as many crucial tasks as any other component in the body. Some of those responsibilities include regulating our moods, appetite, pain levels, sugar levels, blood pressure, and more.

4. The benefits and basics of THC
Even now that marijuana is legal in Canada, there are still far too many people who don’t know how to differentiate the difference between CBD and THC. THC is the euphoria-inducing element in cannabis plants and is also the one cannabinoid that should be avoided by developing brains. Though marijuana use should never be glorified to children, it is beneficial for them to understand how it is used to help adults the same way that Tylenol, Advil, and many prescription medications are. Especially right now, since the plant is still highly demonized from the last several decades of prohibition. They should also fully understand and be aware of the legal age restrictions in their region.

5. The benefits and basics of CBD
There is still a lot of confusion surrounding the cannabinoid CBD and where it comes from. This is mainly since the hemp plant was wrongly discriminated against for being a part of the cannabis plant family. Canadian schools need to teach children where this cannabinoid comes from, which is hemp seeds. Our kids should also be aware that its effects are not the same as THC, which is why CBD products do not have a minimum age restriction. CBD can be helpful for a wide range of medical conditions, and the use of this element on its own will lose its stigma once a better understanding of these primary cannabinoids is achieved.

6. The health benefits of consuming marijuana plants raw
A lot of people think about cannabis, and automatically assume that no matter what type of product it is, that it will get you high. This is a wrongly spread myth, and our children deserve to know better. Eating a marijuana plant will not produce an intoxicating high, and the plant materials themselves are full of many of the essential vitamins and oils that our bodies need to be healthy. This aspect should be taught similarly to vegetables so that kids are not afraid of the plants, and so that they understand that not everyone uses the plant products for recreational reasons.

7. The effects of cannabis intoxication on both the underdeveloped and fully developed brains
This is likely one of the most critical lessons that should take place in Canadian schools for several different reasons. The first is that they understand the possible side effects of consuming marijuana products at too young of an age. The second is so that they can recognize the difference in how it might positively benefit them in the future. The third is to clarify why so many people refer to and use these types of products as medicine. Most kids nowadays hear that their mom is trying some pot cookies for her pain, and they simply assume she’s getting high and being dishonest. Therefore, it is vital for adults like educators who heavily influence our children’s lives to be open and honest about the possibilities for products that are made with cannabis.

8. The difference between cannabis and hemp plants
When marijuana prohibition was first implemented, hemp plants were grouped in as a part of the cannabis plant family and made illegal in much of the world. It is unclear why this association was made, though it is believed this decision stemmed from a lack of understanding of the significant difference in the produced cannabinoids from each species. The ability to recognize the distinction between the two is essential for our society to move forward in implementing hemp products into our lives in place of other most hazardous items that we currently use.

9. Hemp plant uses and benefits
Hemp plants are used for entirely different reasons than cannabis plants are, and they also contain many nutritious elements that can be beneficial to our diets. Just like we are all taught about the many uses of other plant materials like wood, flowers, spices, etc., our children should be provided the information on how hemp plants can and already are both helpful and useful in our daily lives for both our health and our environmental impact on this planet.

10. The environmental benefits that can be obtained by growing cannabis and hemp plants
Once upon a time marijuana plants and hemp plants grew wild amongst the greenery in our environment. That is where the term weed or ditch weed originally came from, as it used to be common to find these plants it ditches along highways and any forested areas. Prohibition demolished the wild plant species as its presence was made illegal and demonized. The trouble is that both plants provide an enormous benefit to both the soil and the air. Hemp and cannabis are both incredibly powerful tools in cleansing soil that is unusable due to contamination, and both utilize mass amounts of CO2 to flourish, which is just one of the many glasses that is currently contributing to global warming. If our children are provided with the tools and knowledge on how this can be beneficial, then our future will look a little brighter, cleaner, and cooler in no time.

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