talking with youth about cannabis

It can be difficult to talk to your child about cannabis, but it’s an important conversation to have. The human brain is not fully developed until around age 25 and young people are more vulnerable to harmful long-term effects and dependency.

Cannabis can hurt the teen brain

Regular and prolonged use of cannabis at a young age may impair brain development. It can lower IQ and prevent the brain from reaching its full potential. Using cannabis during the teen years can also lead to a higher risk of psychosis.

Effects on youth

Teenagers may not be fully aware of the risks. Using cannabis at a young age can:

  • increase the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviour, which can lead to injury or death
  • cause poor performance in school, lower grades and increase the risk of dropping out
  • lead to dependency

How to talk about it

Start the conversation early. Be ready with the information you need before your child asks so you know what to say. Drug Free Kids Canada has developed the Cannabis Talk Kit: Know How to Talk with Your Teen. This is a great place to start for helpful information and guidance for engaging with your teenager.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction has also developed the Talking pot with youth – A cannabis communications guide for youth allies, which help you understand what makes an effective youth ally.

Here are some tips for parents from Drug Free Kids Canada:

  • keep an open mind
  • remember how you felt as a teen
  • go into the conversation with goals in mind
  • be calm and relaxed
  • be positive
  • don’t lecture, let them ask questions
  • find a comfortable setting
  • be aware of body language