Cannabis & Young People
The most recent Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (2017) shows that about 20% of students in grades 7-12 used cannabis in the last year.
Even occasional cannabis use has risks, especially for young people. Young people are particularly vulnerable to risks associated with cannabis use because brain development continues into a person’s twenties. Research in this area is ongoing, but the Effects of Cannabis Use during Adolescence are well documented.
Though it isn’t possible to predict who will experience harms from cannabis, the association between cannabis use at a younger age and several negative outcomes has led to the recommendation to delay taking up cannabis use until later in life. This is also part of the reason that youth under 19 years old are still prohibited from using, possessing, or cultivating cannabis in Ontario.
Some factors that have been shown to help protect young people from experiencing harms related with cannabis (mis)use include:
- Developing social and personal skills and being exposed to positive peer norms
- Having supportive teachers (youth agree that teachers care and encourage them)
- Talking with parents (youth who can ask a parent/guardian for help with a personal problem)
- Family rules (youth who have clear family rules)
- Parents’ opinion (youth feel their parent(s) think it is wrong if they use cannabis)
The following resources provide additional information about cannabis for parents and youth:
- Drug Free Kids Canada – Cannabis Talk Kit
- Parent Action on Drugs – Parent Action Pack
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – The Blunt Truth
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – Cannabis: What Parent/Guardians and Caregivers Need to Know