Health Canada and Drug Free Kids Canada partner to create Cannabis Talk Kit
It’s important that parents talk with their kids about the health effects of cannabis. But having a conversation with teenagers about any drug, even cannabis, isn’t always easy.
To help parents navigate these conversations with their teens, Health Canada partnered with Drug Free Kids Canada to create the Cannabis Talk Kit, available as a download or a free printed copy. It is also available for download in Inuktitut. The Kit provides parents with answers to the questions adolescents will likely be asking about cannabis—questions like, “Why would they make something legal that could hurt me?”
According to Sheri Todd, Director of Marketing, Partnerships and Creative Services at Health Canada, who oversaw the partnership between Health Canada and Drug Free Kids Canada, the Cannabis Talk Kit “recognizes that parents are one of the most powerful influencers in their children’s lives.”
With this in mind, the Kit promotes honest and open communication about cannabis between parents and youth. It also helps parents understand the reasons why their teen might be using or interested in trying cannabis.
The Kit provides answers to questions teens may have that parents may find uncomfortable, such as, “Didn’t you smoke weed?” The Kit also offers advice about how to bring up the topic in the first place.
As Todd explained, the Kit “suggests starting a dialogue from a place of empathy and compassion. The Kit recommends avoiding language that could shut down the conversation by unequivocally telling your kids, ‘Don't use pot, it’s bad for you.’ Instead, it provides useful suggested language intended to promote engagement between parents and their teens.”
Benefits of the partnership
Health Canada distributes the physical version of the Cannabis Talk Kit across the country. To date, it has mailed the Kit to physicians, paediatricians, health organizations and other stakeholders.
The Northwest Territories distributed the Kit to every household in the territory. Health Canada has commissioned the translation of the Kit into Inuktitut in response to a request by the Nunalituqait Ikajuqatigiitut Inuit Association.
Given the demand for facts about cannabis, Health Canada was keen to partner with a national and bilingual organization committed to educating parents and youth about drugs and their impacts. As per Marc Paris, Director of Drug Free Kids Canada and the lead behind the Cannabis Talk Kit, stated, it is thanks to Health Canada’s support that the non-profit was able to “take it to another level.”
Todd said her team consulted scientific advisors to make sure the kit was “bulletproof with respect to the evidence provided.”
As a result, the Kit has been endorsed by several medical associations such as the Canadian Psychiatric Association.
Paris noted that the partnership with Health Canada offered several perks. Health Canada “helped to legitimize the content.”
He added, “We could not have afforded to do a print version and mail out over 200,000 copies.”
Cannabis Talk Kit is a communication tool for parents to talk to their teens
Health Canada’s Sheri Todd
Parents such as Health Canada’s Nathalie Savage, who has a thirteen-year-old son, can get answers to questions about cannabis from the Kit firsthand. Savage keeps a copy of the Kit at home, and says it’s a useful resource to have around the house for her son to read. “I found that it was good for him to have, in the sense of opening his mind towards what cannabis is, what it does, and what the effects are on him and those around him who use it,” she explained.
Savage recalls how her son was approached to use cannabis by a peer at school, not long after he had read the Cannabis Talk Kit. “It’s made him a little stronger in the sense that he’s able to reject it at school. He basically told the person, ‘No I’m not interested,’” she said.
As the legal framework for cannabis in Canada evolves, such as when legislation for edibles comes into effect, Todd agreed that the Cannabis Talk Kit will evolve too so it remains a useful and relevant resource.
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