Cannabis education sessions for parents and their teenagers are proving popular as Canada approaches legalization.
“Parents are definitely concerned. They have questions and concerns and they come out to learn as much as they can,” Nick Moore, the adult education specialist at YouthLink, said.
The YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre has been running free cannabis education sessions since June 25. The sessions are held about five times a week. So far, 35 programs have been held for about 900 adults and 400 youth.
“Some parents know nothing and some parents know a lot,” Moore said.
“Adults have the biggest influence in a young person’s life and if we can equip them with skills then everyone is better off.”
According to a Global News’ exclusive Ipsos poll on cannabis usage in Canada, 26 per cent of parents say they use cannabis and 80 per cent of parents who use cannabis do so on a regular basis. Once it’s legalized, most parents say their usage will stay the same.
The survey also found parents who use cannabis are more likely to feel equipped to educate their children.
“Cannabis is going on already.
“We have very high prevalence in Canada and young people are already using,” said Rebecca Haines-Saah, assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary.
In 2016, the World Health Organization compared cannabis use among youth across 40 countries and found that use in Canada was the second highest.
Haines-Saah is well-known for her cannabis research with youth. She doesn’t expect legalization will equal a spike in usage.
“It’s not the legal status that’s been preventing youth from using, it’s other factors in their family and community,” she said. “So I’m really hoping, and you can prove me wrong, but I think we’re going to be OK.”
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So what will change for Canadian parents and teens? Haines-Saah said legalization will reduce the stigma and allow for new conversations between parents and teens.
“It will open a context to have new conversations about the substance and maybe about all substances, about the risks of alcohol use and tobacco use.”
Her two pieces of advice are to encourage teens to delay using cannabis and to use less frequently.
“We know the earlier that kids start, the more likely that they move into problems,” she said.
“Really focusing on using less frequently and using less intensely, so it’s not an all-day, everyday thing.”
As for parents who use cannabis, Haines-Saah hopes they model responsible behaviour for their kids.
“Lots of us use alcohol in our homes responsibly. Whatever you’ve been modelling for your kids in a responsible way, you should take the same approach to cannabis.”
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Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.”
This Ipsos poll on behalf of Global News was an online survey of 2,000 Canadians conducted between Oct. 5 and Oct. 9. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult Canadian population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.