Since cannabis has now been legalized in Canada and 33 American states, many parents of teens are seeking resources to assist them in their conversations with their own adolescent children. I have completed some research on various easily accessible resources and wanted to share these, along with some thoughts as to why I like them.
It was evident in my practice that many parents were worried that their teen’s use of cannabis would increase once cannabis was legalized. This was true even though, since most of my patients are under nineteen, it would have been illegal for then to purchase cannabis. Also, it seemed unlikely to me that cannabis use would increase further as young Canadians were already using more cannabis than their counterparts around the world. I have expressed this view previously and, in fact, early data suggest that use of cannabis among young Canadians has not increased since legalization.
About one year ago, I did provide an update on the Government of Canada’s public health campaign for legal marijuana. While researching some of the educational resources available for parents, I realized that the Government of Canada has followed through on their promise for a robust public health campaign. This link will send you to all the resources the federal government has developed. They are excellent and regularly updated.
My favourite resource is the Drug Free Kids Canada.org Cannabis–Talk–Kit. You can download the kit from the organization’s website here. This guide is readable but concise, containing all the information a parent needs for a thorough discussion about cannabis. Drug Free Kids Canada is a not-for-profit organization with broad support and an impressive group of advisors. Considering the advisors the group has, it’s no wonder they have been able to produce such an excellent resource.
Most of the provinces have developed their own public health guides and some of these are also helpful. The ones I like best, for their readability and approach, are the resources developed by British Columbia and Quebec. Since each province has jurisdiction over marijuana sales, parents will likely want to refer to the material from their own region so that they have such details as the age when a youth can legally purchase marijuana, etc.
Of all the American resources that a parent can access, I have not found any reference better than the Cannabis-Talk-Kit. Having said this, the Vermont Department of Health’s Health Impact Assessment of cannabis legalization is a great example of the kind of impact assessment every physician hopes was conducted in their jurisdiction.
Finally, if you happen to find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all the information and are looking for something a bit lighter, but still factual, I recommend Stephen Marche’s Canada Has Made Pot Super Boring from the New Yorker magazine.
Let’s face it – every country needs a super power and reducing health risks by making them boring might be a very solid public health strategy!
(Note: Stay tuned next week for my examination of the research regarding the impact of legalization on the prevalence of use among teens.)