Teens and Cannabis

How to talk to Your Teen About Cannabis Without Sounding Like an After-school Special


It’s inevitable; at some point, every parent wonders how to approach sensitive topics with their teen, and a lot of them have a fear of sounding like an after-school special when that time finally arrives. In the wake of Canada legalizing recreational cannabis for adult use, teens and parents alike are probably dreading these awkward conversations. Take a deep breath; we’ve got some pointers to help you address the topic of cannabis with your teen.

Most can agree that abstinence-based messages don’t always hit home when it comes to things like peer pressure, alcohol, and cannabis, so it’s best to have another plan in place. As a parent, it’s your job to provide accurate information, and a safe and non-judgemental environment to discuss any topics your teen may have questions about, including cannabis.

First of All, What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is the general scientific name for the hemp plant. There are many varieties of cannabis plants, all with their own distinct characteristics. The most common two varieties are commonly known as cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. Cannabis plants contain over 100 discovered cannabinoids (chemical compounds), but THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the most famous of the bunch. THC is often associated with the intoxication experienced from inhaling or ingesting cannabis which is caused by the THC molecules being absorbed into your bloodstream. CBD, on the other hand, does not produce that same intoxicating effect but is distributed throughout your body in the same way.

Learn with Them

With the legalization of recreational cannabis, and new medical uses constantly being explored, there is more information to decipher than ever. Research the laws around cannabis use, and the effects it can have on the developing brain. Explain that there is evidence of the negative effects of cannabis use in young people, and that there is a legal age limit (19 years, in most provinces) for a reason. Even if you’ve used cannabis before, offer to learn together to eliminate the mystery and open the floor for questions.

Talk about Cannabis as Medication

As more Canadians look to cannabis for medical purposes, it’s easy to convey that cannabis has effects on both the mind and the body, like any prescribed medication. Explain to your child that there are prescribed dosages and side effects to medication, and that following the advice of a healthcare professional is very important.

Describe and Set a Safe Example

If you or other adults are using cannabis medically or recreationally, remember to seek and set out safe guidelines for yourself and reiterate those with your teen to lead by example. Much like teens experimenting with alcohol, it’s important for you to discuss safe scenarios when it comes to impairment. Ensure that you are a safe resource to talk to when it comes to their feelings, and their choices.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

You know your child. If feel that they could benefit from the advice from a professional, don’t be afraid to seek it out. There are many online resources available for parents, or you may prefer to seek the advice of a councillor or medical professional. Remember, that if you or your child are having an issue with cannabis use, seek help from your health care practitioner.

Always consider your teens maturity level when it comes to addressing delicate topics, such as cannabis, and be a positive and reassuring source of information for your child. Take a moment to consider how receptive they are, and be open to an evolving conversation as they navigate their way to adulthood.

Remember, honesty will reinforce trust with your teenager, and they learn from watching you.