Whether parents are planning to smoke recreational cannabis in Canada or not, health officials are urging them to plan to talk to their kids about pot. (Pxhere photo)

Whether parents are planning to smoke recreational cannabis in Canada or not, health officials are urging them to plan to talk to their kids about pot. (Pxhere photo)

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

It’s no surprise that as the Oct. 17 legalization of cannabis inches closer and closer, some parents have already attempted to navigate through approaching the issue of pot with their children.

Meanwhile, others may be at a loss with how to even start the conversation – let alone what to say.

Black Press Media spoke with Emily Jenkins from UBC’s School of Nursing, who was able to share a few tips that could come in handy when it comes to having the talk.

First make sure you, the parent, have done your homework

Over the decades there have been plenty of myths circulated around cannabis, and one of the worst things to do would be to perpetuate any misconceptions.

“It’s important for parents to educate themselves,” Jenkins said. “I know there’s a lot of misinformation about cannabis out there right now, so finding sources that are reputable and evidence based can be key.”

Jenkins suggested two resources: A tool kit for youth created by the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and the federal government’s Cannabis Talk kit, which helps parents start the conversation with their kids.

Health officials, including the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message. That means messaging isn’t about not smoking pot, but instead about some of the risks and keeping a healthy relationship with cannabis.

Not driving stoned – or getting in the car with someone that is high, how cannabis can impact mental health and wellness and the risks of smoking pot too young or too often are all worth talking about, Jenkins said.

Ahead of starting conversation, Jenkins suggested that parents should set goals for what they want to achieve through the discussion and look to hear what their kid already might know.

“Be curious,” she said. “They’re doing their own exploring on the internet, too.”

Include younger children in the conversation

Deciding what age is appropriate to start talking pot is a tricky decision to make, but Jenkins said not starting the conversation soon enough can leave some children trying to sort out the facts on their own.

“Start early, and don’t wait for that conversation to the point where they’re exposed to it in their peer group,” she said.

Although parents need to tailor what to say and when to say it to their own unique child, Jenkins encouraged discussion to begin as early as elementary school.

“We know that cannabis use can start as early as elementary school, so equipping them to navigate that decision-making in a way that builds on what we know and potential harms is really important,” she said.

Even if you aren’t planning to dive into cannabis, it can’t be ignored

Some parents will pay no mind to Canada welcoming cannabis Oct. 17, but Jenkins said it’s best to be very cautious of the mind set that “none of my kids are going to do it.”

According to Statistics Canada data, roughly 23 per cent of kids ages 15 to 17 smoke pot.

“Don’t be afraid that by having a conversation about cannabis is somehow going to be condoning or encouraging it,” she said. “Recognize that young people are living in a context that use is widespread, so the earlier we can start talking about cannabis and potential harms, the better outcome we can see.”

Jenkins said youth having a place to go for open dialogue with their family is one of the key ways to reduce harm.

“They need to feel they can go to trusted people to talk about their decision making around cannabis.”

If you are planning to smoke up, still talk about the risks

Most resources out there are targeted to parents who don’t use cannabis, so what should those who plan to take part tell their kids?

“I think it comes down to what kind of messages are going to be appropriate for the family’s context,” Jenkins said, adding that the point of conversation is to keep kids safe.

This includes still looking to lower-risk cannabis use guidelines by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research which shares the 10 most notable effects it has on your health.

Make it an ongoing discussion

As Canadians of all ages navigate through how they plan to participate – or not – in legal recreation cannabis, the best things parents can do is keep the conversation going, Jenkins said.

“Don’t make it a one-off,” she explained. “Create context that there’s always a safe space for them to come to talk to you about cannabis use.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Cannabis Legislation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crofton Fire Department members on the scene of Twin Gables fire in February of 2020. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Citizens’ group calls for action at Crofton’s Twin Gables Motel

Crofton waterfront site called an eyesore and a nuisance property

North Cowichan is looking for public input through a survey as it updates its Master Transportation Plan. (File photo)
North Cowichan looking for public input on transportation

Online survey to be held until April 22

West Shore RCMP arrested a 42-year-old man April 11 following numerous reports of someone firing a rifle in a Malahat campground. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP arrest man after shots fired at Malahat campground

Police received numerous reports of a man firing a rifle outside his camper trailer

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

A grey whale off the coast of Vancouver Island is being monitored by Canadian and U.S. researchers, as it has developed lesions after being tagged last year. To try and prevent systemic infection from developing, the team administered antibiotics to the whale on March 31 and April 1. (Photo from the NOAA Fisheries website)
Grey whale off Vancouver Island develops lesions after being tagged, researchers monitor its condition

Canadian and U.S. whale experts administered antibiotics to the animal on March 31, April 1

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

A man sustained burns to his body near this spot around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 13 in Courtenay. The fire was left of the pathway. The Station youth housing facility and city public works yard are to the right of the trail. Photo by Terry Farrell
Man catches fire sleeping while outdoors in downtown Courtenay

Firefighters say man still burning when they arrived after he fell asleep next to his fire

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Most Read