When I was growing up, conversations around cannabis didn’t exist - especially when kids were present. Beyond the “marijuana is a drug, never try it!” words of warning, the topic was totally taboo.
With the recent legalization of cannabis in our country, parents are now worried about how to address the topic of weed with their wee ones, and headlines such as “B.C. child in the hospital after eating cannabis-infused gummy bears,” aren’t making matters any easier.
As a result, some parents seem to be in a state of panic, worried that the legalization of (and any mention of) marijuana will cause their children to become curious about cannabis and expose them to the risks that can occur should they accidentally ingest the potent plant or breathe in its fumes.
Others hope to shield their kids by skirting the issue, affirming that they will try to avoid the topic entirely in hopes of keeping their kids safe.
While the questions that arise around discussing cannabis with kids bring up some legitimate concerns, it’s the lack of knowledge and understanding that is creating a state of fear in panicked parents, and sparking curiosity in children.
Signs are already beginning to pop up with messages such as “Don’t drive high,” advertising campaigns are going to crop up in mainstream media, and fumes are going to fill the air - and all of these things are going to spark questions. Questions that we, as parents, should be prepared to answer honestly.
Instead of silencing ourselves, we should be using the new legalization as a launch point for discussion.
One Vancouver mom, Jenn Honey, decided to discuss cannabis with her young daughter on the day pot became legal in Canada - a day which coincidentally coincided with her daughter’s seventh birthday.
In a Facebook post, the mom shares with her family and friends, “I wanted to get ahead of this one, so we talked. (My daughter) knows that cannabis is a drug for adults to use. I told her some adults might have cannabis in the house now that is out and around for her to see and touch, but she has to leave it alone like any medicine, or cleaning products, or alcohol. We also talked about how some adults might use cannabis to make other treats like candy or chocolates, and that she now needs to ask adults when she’s over at someone’s house before she eats anything like that. Just like Halloween, if it’s not in a wrapper, it’s off limits, unless cleared by an adult you trust.”
And now that it’s legal, some cannabis-infused edibles are being packaged in fancy wrappers, too, so for children, nothing is safe to consume without getting approval from an adult.
Protecting our kids is a primary focus for parents, but keeping them in the dark about drugs - especially those that are now legal, will do more harm than good. We need to make our kids aware of the risks that can occur, and parents need to do their research.
In response to a comment that discussing cannabis with kids can be a scary conversation, Jenn Honey responds, “Legalization opens the door to discussion that people couldn’t have before, in fear of judgement and even prosecution. It’s precisely the reason that I am in favour,” and I wholeheartedly agree. If you want to familiarize yourself with the facts before you face the conversation, check out camh.ca.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor and marketing consultant. Find her online at @bitsofbee.