Article by Darren Bernhardt, CBC News
A once-prohibited vice and one of the targets of the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign of the 1980s, marijuana is set to become legal in Canada next summer — so it’s high time to talk to your kids about it.
“There are important questions, and hard questions, that parents might be wrestling with, like, ‘How do we reconcile this when we’ve told our child all along this is never to happen, and all of a sudden here it is happening?'” said Naomi Kruse, executive director of the Manitoba Association of Parent Councils.
On July 1, 2018, the taboo topic of toking will become a government-backed business, complete with storefronts and advertising.
The Addictions Foundation of Manitoba advises parents should not wait until there is an issue, but should be proactive by talking with kids early on.
“We’re already getting questions from some of our youth counsellors, our school-based counsellors, who have had parents ask, ‘How is this going to affect my child and what should I do?'” said Catarina Witt, AFM communications co-ordinator.
The best approach is for parents to educate themselves on the realities of cannabis and then be “open about listening and having talks” with their kids, she said.
“Be available to hear, to listen and invite the opinions of your youth. They do have an opinion and once someone’s heard from them, they’re more likely to listen to our opinion, too.”
Kids need to know about cannabis, its pros and cons, and why the government decided to legalize it, both Witt and Kruse said, noting it’s the only way to peel away the myths and misconceptions.
Cannabis was first banned in Canada in 1923, with regulated medical cannabis becoming legal in 2001 for its health benefits.
The current Liberal government took things further, deciding Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition doesn’t prevent young people from using the drug and too many end up with unnecessary criminal records for possession.