Canadians consume a lot of cannabis.
Statistics Canada estimates that nearly $6 billion (with a “b”) worth of cannabis was consumed by Canadians in 2017 - much of that was illegal. The fact that most cannabis use is currently illegal gives parents an easy “out” when it comes to talking to their kids. It’s easy to say “It’s illegal, don’t use it.”
But, that is all about to change.
Adult-use recreational cannabis will be legal at some point this year in Canada - requiring parents to think about how they will speak to their kids about the product.
The Business of Cannabis Co-Founders, between them, have 7 kids of varying ages. Together, we thought it was a good idea to put together some tips for parents and other adults with curious kids in their lives on planning and prepping The Pot Talk.
- Become Informed - Parents need to be armed with the real facts in order to have honest conversations that move beyond stigma and a hundred years of prohibition. Health Canada has a thoughtful section on their site about “Talking with Teenagers” about cannabis. Go there - read it.
- Ask Questions - Gauging where kids are in their understanding and knowledge can sometimes be a helpful first step to get the conversation going. This is often how teachers break the ice when speaking about sex education in the classroom - so, start with a question. Ask them what they already know and you might be surprised how that helps to guide the conversation...possibly starting with the correction of some misinformation.
- Be Age-Appropriate - Kids process complex ideas differently based on their age. If you have kids of varying ages, expect a different level of understanding and certainly different questions. Better still, plan for a series of different conversations.
- Be Honest - Kids can see through BS. Be as honest as you feel comfortable being about your use, or past use - but remember, you want your kids to be honest with you - and that’s usually a two-way street.
- Understand the Reality - Remember - cannabis is becoming legal - someone else will have the conversation with them if it isn't you - so it's probably best that it’s you. Again, Health Canada is a good resource - not only about how to talk to your kids, but also about what is going to be legal and not legal in 2018.
- Recreational Is for Adults - Like driving, drinking and staying up late, there is responsibility that needs to be taken around the use of recreational cannabis and the government has decided that only adults are able to take this responsibility on. Ensuring that your kids are clear on the age limits and legality is an important first step towards understanding how it may or may not be a viable part of their immediate lives. That doesn’t mean some people - of all ages - cannot find cannabis-based medicine that works for them - but recreationally, that’s for adults.
- Sometimes it is Medicine - 80 percent of Canadians believe there is medicinal value in cannabis. Nearly 100 percent of the patients that use medicinal cannabis believe so. Describing how some people use cannabis for medicine is compelling, even to a child and given that we are just at the front end of legalization in the weeks, months and years to come we’re going to know more about the medical benefits. Epilepsy, Tourettes, Arthritis - to name a few - are conditions seeing real value and real improvement.
- Teach Good Decision Making - Understand that this is one of the Big 3 Conversations - Sex, Drinking and Drugs - all three can be described in the context of making safe, thoughtful and good decisions - a good thing to remember, as a parent teaching kids to “Make Good Decisions”.
- Realize, Our Parents Botched It - I’m 44, my parents botched this conversation. They came of age in the 60s. They smoked pot. We knew this - they kind of lied to us about it - it made us more curious to use more, earlier, not less, later.
- This Isn’t One Conversation - If you only ever have one conversation about important issues, you are failing your kids. Ongoing, open dialogue is best. Scenario playing is helpful. Kids grow up and face different circumstances, so it is our job to arm them with the capacity to think things through and make informed decisions.
Watch this space for more of The Pot Talk.
Written by: Jay Rosenthal, Co-Founder and President of Business of Cannabis
About Business of Cannabis:
Business of Cannabis is the authoritative platform for news, analysis and insights into the business of Canada’s cannabis sector. We produce original multi-platform content and cross-sector coverage, to serve those working in and alongside the industry. We believe that expert information empowers professionals to leverage opportunities and navigate obstacles.