Talking with Your Kids About Cannabis

Talking with Your Kids About Cannabis

Just as you would with commonly used substances like alcohol and nicotine, it’s important to have informed and open conversations about cannabis use with your kids, even if you use cannabis yourself.

What to say…

If your children are young:  Just as you would talk to your younger children about the risks of not wearing a helmet, running across the road, talking to strangers, or consuming anything unknown – cannabis can become a part of your general “safety” conversation.

Important to remember: Cannabis edibles can look just like the cookies or chocolate you bought at the grocery store – which can be very attractive to young children. If you do have edible cannabis products in your home, don’t leave them in plain sight. Label them properly and securely store them out of reach in child-resistant containers.

If your children are teens:  Chances are your kids already have many questions about cannabis, and they may have even tried it. Together, you and your teen can learn more about cannabis products and their effects by using reliable sources like Drug Free Kids Canada, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), and Health Canada.   

Help teens understand that the best way for them to protect their health is not to use cannabis at all.

Important: 90% of addictions began with substance use during adolescence. Cannabis in all its forms is an addictive substance. Adolescents who start consuming cannabis frequently or regularly have a much higher risk of developing cannabis use disorder.

If your children are the age of majority or young adults:  Remind them that every form of cannabis can be a risk to their health – There are significant differences between eating and smoking cannabis. One of the biggest mistakes made with first-time use of cannabis edibles is to accidentally consume too much and then consequently experience a stronger, unpleasant, and unintended high.

Important: The exact same dose can affect two people differently – so people experimenting or using for the first time should Start Low and go Slow. Start with a low dose of THC and wait at least two hours before consuming any more.

Get to know Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, and discuss them together with your teens and young adults.  These recommendations can greatly help reduce the potential harms of cannabis use to the health of young people.

Parents are the most important influence in a child’s life and they can play an important role in helping their kids understand the impacts that substances can have on their mental and physical health, so they can make informed decisions about the use of substances as they grow older. Kids themselves say that losing their parents’ trust and respect are the most important reasons not to use substances.

Download the Cannabis Talk Kit to help spark informed, balanced and open discussions between you and your pre-teen or teen.

Talking with kids about substance use can be a challenge for some parents, but those conversations matter. Becoming informed about cannabis and creating a safe and receptive environment to begin the conversation with your teen can promote lasting open and positive communication.