An epic moment happened in Canada this past week when they became the 1st G7 nation to legalize cannabis for retail/recreational purposes. This monumental move, however, has left many individuals across the country with questions. One of those questions, is what about the kids?
Much support for legalization has been built upon the argument that it would be better for the youth of the country. The belief is that a regulated market will help to eliminate the illicit black market, thus making for safer communities across the country.
Opponents of legalization, however, have often come forth with the argument that legalization would lead to more children and young adults consuming cannabis, thus having the complete opposite effect of what advocates of the plant state.
Thanks to statistics from legal states in the U.S. we can firmly say that this is likely not to be the case.
In states such as Colorado and Washington that have chosen to legalize cannabis for responsible and regulated use by adults, there has been no increase in youth consumption rates. In fact, precisely the opposite has occurred.
It seems that now that it’s legal and “everyone is doing it” (by everyone I mean adults of course), it is not the cool thing to do as a teenager.
But how can Canada leaders help to ensure that this is the case? Simple, teach the truth.
From updating disciplinary processes to changing codes of conduct, there is much work to be done throughout the school systems in Canada to reflect this change in the provincial law.
While those under the age of 19 will be unable to purchase, consume, or possess cannabis legally, the policies that apply to them will still need to be updated to reflect the reform of cannabis laws in the country.
This must be done in an unbiased way while also making students aware of the benefits that cannabis offers, the truth of its efficiency and safety, as well as the negative consequences that cannabis may produce when consumed by children of young ages.
Even though cannabis may be legal for those over the age of 19, it will still be strictly prohibited on school grounds even for students that may fit this demographic, so it is crucial that the policies reflect this change.
Not only do policies need to be updated, but so does the educational material that references cannabis in every school system throughout the country.
This material should be updated to address topics such as the change in the law, what it permits and what it prohibits as well as driving under the influence of cannabis, and what to do if you are in a situation where you are offered cannabis before you are of legal age to consume.
Many school systems should also encourage discussions surrounding cannabis seeing how legalization is bound to affect every student in one form or another.
In a way, legalization could allow school systems the ability to open up conversations regarding cannabis with students that may not have taken place otherwise.
While educating adolescents and young adults about the changes in cannabis policy and the effects that cannabis produces both negative and positive, it is also essential that school officials, administrators, and other leaders have updated training regarding cannabis policies and other associated aspects.
It is important for these leaders to be able to tell the difference between a student under the influence and a student that has been exposed to cannabis second hand be it through smoking or vaping.
They should also have the resources and knowledge they need to thoroughly address any questions that students may have as well as any issues that may arise with this very recent change in policy.
Health officials should also have extensive knowledge to detect the signs of cannabis consumption in children as well as be aware of what to do if a child under their care is under the influence of cannabis.
Like John Yan, a spokesman for the Toronto Catholic District School Board stated, "This is new territory for everyone." This includes parents. Like John, many of them "didn’t think there would come a day when marijuana would be legalized in this country, and it’s a reality that is going to take some adjustment for everyone.”
This is another reason why it is essential that educators, administrators, and other school officials are knowledgeable about cannabis and the laws surrounding them as it is likely parents are going to be leaning on them as a resource surrounding this topic.
The critical thing to remember is that while cannabis may present a slight chance of developmental delays when consumed at a young age, it is non-toxic, and non-lethal meaning that even if a child is to consume cannabis, there is no chance of them suffering long-term side effects.
Despite its safety, it is essential that children are taught the truths regarding cannabis and that they are encouraged to always abide by the law and not to consume cannabis until they are of legal age.Posted: Friday, October 19th, 11:00am a month ago
Ashley is a freelance cannabis writer and the co-owner of CannaLance. Her passion for sharing education and truth surrounding cannabis stems from a personal loss. Ashley has always had an elevated relationship with cannabis but it wasn't until 2015 that she turned that passion and relationship into a career as a cannabis writer.