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Canadian Schools Struggling With Cannabis Education Ahead of Legalization

With federal legalization of cannabis must come an adjustment in the education around the plant.

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Canadian Schools Struggling With Cannabis Education Ahead of Legalization
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Canada’s upcoming legalization date comes in only a few days. Still, some issues about recreational cannabis remain left to finalize. Sure, Ottawa has written out rules for officers enjoying weed while off-duty. Ontario even drafted parameters around coming to work high. And it’s legal—and ready to be carried out—that Canadians can carry up to 30 grams of marijuana on any domestic flights. Nonetheless, the Canadian government realizes in this circus for cannabis legalization the importance of educating young people on marijuana. Investments in the cannabis industry may continue in Canada. But schools in provinces like Ontario seek to ready themselves for the impact on young students in their districts through school curriculum on the drug.

Case Study: Ontario, Canada

For many laws governing recreational weed, they will vary province by province. Similarly, school boards in Ontario may differ than school boards in Quebec with some laws about cannabis, for instance. In Ontario, school boards have decided to follow the law—while recreational weed is legal, it isn’t allowed on school grounds. Now treated like alcohol, no one under the legal age of use of 19 can have adult-use cannabis. The same consequences for breaking those laws about alcohol apply to cannabis, too, on school grounds.

Yet, these new rules have not yet made it into many schools’ codes of conduct. And not only do these new rules not appear in these student documents, staff still needs training. They seek guidance from school boards still working to finalize direction and answer questions about issues dealing with legal cannabis. Catholic schools led by the Catholic Board of the province assure the teaching staff they will have more guidelines prepared for forthcoming semesters. But this semester, teachers in Ontario only have the resources published by Ontario’s Ministry of Education that explain the new Cannabis Act. But these resources do not explain how to teach and guide children about weed use.

Still, schools like those in Toronto already feel prepared on this subject. They suggest the protocol will be to treat cannabis like alcohol. Further, Canadian professors argue for a different perspective on youth use of cannabis. Perhaps in this new area of legalization, Canadians are privileged the opportunity to study youth weed-use. This gives the country the opportunity to address cannabis-use differently than alcohol altogether.

A New Normal

But the schools, teachers, and Canadian government shouldn’t act as the only perspective in a teen’s cannabis education. Parents everywhere must prepare for how to speak with their children about weed and new laws.  In fact, some Canadian cities know this. And they know parents need help.  In Ottawa, they offer cannabis info sessions for parents. These resources provide education about these new laws. But Canada has, in fact, invested a lot in cannabis education.

Though the schools may not see the effects this year as the law goes into effect, Canada has set aside millions for a nuanced cannabis education program. Moving away from abstinence-only education programs, these new truthful curriculums will stay away from “just say no.” Instead, they will provide a thoughtful, honest education on drugs, rather than marking it as a dangerous drug with legal and health consequences.

Cultivating a Cannabis Curriculum

So, Canada may have put money into cannabis education. But the programs need more time to pull together in order to fully satisfy this new legal climate. The country needs time to react to the new Cannabis Act. School boards need time to learn how it will affect the student body. They still need time to address things like driving while under the influence of weed in their drug education curriculum. And finally, they still need to understand and supply info regarding what teens want to know about cannabis. But as Canada’s legal market opens, those lessons and ideas are not ready to be taught in Canadian schools.

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