Tips for Talking to Youth
Start Talking Today
Have ongoing conversations about cannabis before your kids reach the teenage years. Conversations can start with basic topics like what they see on television – you can build up from there.
- Don’t lecture, be calm, talk and actively listen.
- Keep an open mind and try to understand what they are experiencing in life.
- Be supportive and express concern – it is counterproductive to be shameful, angry or use scare tactics.
- Set limits and rules.
- Let them know they can talk to you if they are worried about their own substance use or someone else’s use – it’s about safety.
Discuss Different Topics
Talk about a wide range of topics, not just about substance use. Invite them to offer their opinions, even if they are different than yours. Find out what they think about cannabis use.
Find out who they are hanging out with and get to know their friends.
Spend time with them and keep them busy.
Stay In The Know
There are many myths about cannabis. Have the information to help them make informed choices (drugfreekidscanada.org). Be aware of Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines & Lower Risk Cannabis Guidelines (Guidelines PDF). Inform yourself with the right information.
Set Goals and Revisit
What do you want to gain from the conversation? Not all conversations will go well, but it important to learn from the experience and follow-up.
Set an Example
Be responsible when it comes to your own use. Children are watching and learning from you.
Be Aware Experimentation and Mistakes Happen
Teenage brains are still growing, including their impulse control. Turn the mistake into a discussion and learning opportunity – be rational.
Seek Help if Needed
The teenage age years can be a vulnerable period and may lead to mental health challenges such as anxiety, stress and depression. They may cope with these emotions with substances. If you think your teen is experiencing problems seek professional help.
Cannabis Myths & Facts
It’s Natural, So It’s Harmless
About 10 milligrams of THC can potentially cause toxic psychosis—or THC-induced, psychotic-like symptoms such as delusions—in about 40% of people. Natural/organic/herbal does not mean safe!
Cannabis Is Not Addictive
Cannabis is addictive, especially for young people. Overall, about 1 in 11 – or 9% – of people who abuse cannabis will develop an addiction over time. The risk rises to 17% if users start a cannabis habit during adolescence. It rises further to 25-50% for those who use the drug every day.
It’s Safe to Drive While Under the Influence of Cannabis
Drugs and driving don’t mix. Remember that driving a vehicle while high can pose the same risks as drinking and driving. Just like alcohol, marijuana affects a user’s brain function. A person high on marijuana will have:
- Decreased reaction time
- Decreased visual ability
- Decreased attention
- Impaired decision making
You Can’t Overdose on Cannabis
You cannot die directly from taking cannabis, however, it is possible to overdose and become physically ill (nausea, vomiting), experience extreme anxiety, paranoia, and short-term psychosis (loss of touch with reality). These effects can take several hours to go away, depending on how the cannabis was consumed. The risk for overdose is especially high if you consume homemade edible cannabis products, as it is usually not possible to accurately measure your dosage.
Holding It in Your Lungs Makes the Effects Better
There is no scientific evidence to support this. Instead, holding the smoke in your lungs potentially increases the damage to your lungs. If you smoke or vaporize cannabis, it is best to exhale and not hold it in your lungs for any amount of time.
Everybody Uses Cannabis
In Manitoba, 55% of people have tried cannabis at some point in their life. However, in 2017, 80% of Manitobans reported that they had not used cannabis in that year.
Prohibiting Cannabis Keeps Kids From Using It
Despite the fact that cannabis has been illegal in Canada until 2018, Canada has one of the highest rates of cannabis use for both youth and adults in the world.
Countries that have more relaxed laws about cannabis use – Portugal with decriminalization & the Netherlands with a more permissive approach – do not have more use of cannabis than countries like the U.S or Canada.
Cannabis Is a “Gateway” Drug
There has been no consistent relationship between the use patterns of cannabis and other drugs. While studies of large numbers of people have indeed found that those who smoke cannabis are more likely to use other drugs, these studies show a correlation without showing causation. In short, just because cannabis smokers might be more likely to use other drugs like cocaine, does not imply that using cannabis causes one to use cocaine.
It’s Legal So It’s Safe
Research shows that youth cannabis use is connected to:
- Mental health issues (depression, anxiety) – especially regular use
- Impaired development of reason and judgement
- Poor educational outcomes
- Reduced earning potential
- Risk taking & unsafe behavior
- Impaired driving
- Psychosis (in rare cases)
"It's Not a Big Deal, I Smoked It in the 70's"
In recreational cannabis, levels of THC have been increasing while levels of CBD have been decreasing. This decreases the “protective” effect that CBD may have had on the effects of THC. It is likely that the higher THC content allows people to ingest less tar. At the same time, CBD levels in seized samples have lowered, in part because of the desire to produce higher THC levels and because more illegal growers cultivate indoors using artificial lights. This helps avoid detection but reduces the CBD production of the plant.
Cannabis is Safe to Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Cannabis use in pregnancy may affect the baby’s brain development and when the child reaches school age, it may have problems with attention, behaviour, memory, delayed reading skills, and depression.
Mind & Body Facts
The brain continues to grow and develop until your mid-20’s. Research shows that using cannabis can impact your brain’s processing speed, ability to pay attention and short-term memory.
SOURCES: ccdus.ca, cannabisandpsychosis.ca
Being impaired by cannabis effects coordination, reaction time and decision making. This has led to many fatal and non-fatal motor vehicle accidents. Driving impaired is a criminal offence and can result in an impaired driving charge. Passengers are placing themselves at risk when driving with impaired drivers.
Cannabis smoke contains many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke. If you choose to smoke cannabis, avoid holding your inhale, as it increases damage to the lungs.
Using cannabis can negatively impact your mental health. It can cause an increase in feelings of anxiety and depression, impair your memory and cognitive functions, and may increase the risk of psychosis.
Using cannabis throughout pregnancy has been related to having a lower birth weight and developmental effects in children. Cannabis can also be passed through breast milk to the baby.
Reducing health risks related to cannabis use
When choosing to use cannabis, you can actively take steps to reduce risks to your health. Below are 10 science-based recommendations for how to do so. These recommendations are aimed mainly at non-medical cannabis use.
Cannabis Use Has Health Risks Best Avoided by Abstaining
Remember that every form of cannabis use poses risks to your health. The only way to completely avoid these risks is by choosing not to use cannabis. If you decide to use cannabis, follow these recommendations to lower risks to your health.
Delay Taking up Cannabis Use Until Later in Life
The earlier in life you begin using cannabis, the higher your risk of serious health problems. Teenagers, particularly those younger than 16, should delay using cannabis for as long as possible. You’ll lower your risk of cannabis-related health problems if you choose to start using cannabis later in life.
Identify and Choose Lower-Risk Cannabis Products
Higher-strength or more powerful cannabis products are worse for your health. If you use products with high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, the main mind-altering ingredient in cannabis, you’re more likely to develop severe problems, such as dependence or mental health problems. Cannabidiol (CBD), another cannabis ingredient, can counteract some of THC’s psychoactive effects. If you use, choose low-strength products, such as those with lower THC content or a higher ratio of CBD to THC.
Don’t Use Synthetic Cannabinoids
Compared with natural cannabis products, most synthetic cannabis products are stronger and more dangerous. K2 and Spice are examples of synthetic cannabis products. Using these can lead to severe health problems, such as seizures, irregular heartbeat, hallucinations and in rare cases, death.
Avoid Smoking Cannabis – Choose Safer Ways of Using
Smoking cannabis (for example, smoking a joint) is the most harmful way of using cannabis because it directly affects your lungs. There are safer, non-smoking options like vaping or taking edibles that are better for your lungs. Keep in mind that these alternatives aren’t risk-free either.
Limit and Reduce How Often You Use Cannabis
The more frequently you use cannabis, the more likely you are to develop health problems, especially if you use on a daily or near-daily basis. Limiting your cannabis use to occasional use at most, such as only using once a week or on weekends, is a good way to reduce your health risks. Try to limit your use as much as possible.
Don’t Use and Drive or Operate Other Machinery
Cannabis use impairs your ability to drive a car or operate other machinery. Don’t engage in these activities after using cannabis, or while you still feel affected by cannabis in any way. These effects typically last at least six hours but could be longer, depending on the person and the product used. Using cannabis and alcohol together further increases your impairment. Avoid this combination before driving or operating machinery.
If You Smoke Cannabis, Avoid Harmful Smoking Practices
If you choose to smoke cannabis, avoid inhaling deeply or holding your breath. These practices increase the number of toxins absorbed by your lungs and the rest of your body and can lead to lung problems.
Avoid Cannabis Use Altogether if You Are at Risk for Mental Health Problems or are Pregnant
Some people are more likely to develop problems from cannabis use. Specifically, people with a personal or family history of psychosis or substance use problems, and pregnant women should not use cannabis at all.
Avoid Combining the Risks Identified Above
The more risks you take, the greater the chances of harming your health as a result of cannabis use.
Your Brain on Drugs
VIDEO: This is what you look like, on the inside, when smoking cannabis. The effects of Marijuana on your brain, and how it defines your experience.
Even though cannabis is legal in Canada, there are still rules and regulations that have been put in place by each provincial government. It is important to familiarize yourself with Manitoba the laws so that you can safely, legally and responsibly use marijuana.Learn More
If alcohol, drugs or gambling are causing problems for you or someone you know, call the Manitoba Addictions Helpline at 1-855-662-6605 (toll free) or visit the AFM website for information about our programs and services.