Here’s a situation that should not have happened. This weekend in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, an eight year old won a basket of $200 worth of cannabis products at his … youth hockey tournament?
“My grandson thought he won a great prize,” said Keith Redl, the boy’s grandfather. “‘Dad, I won chocolate!’ ‘No, son, there’s bad drugs in the chocolate.’ How do you explain that to a kid?”
(We recommend throwing out the “bad drugs” tactic and following these more reasonable pointers on how to talk to your kids about cannabis instead.)
The kid’s father had given him $10 worth of raffle tickets at the event — where seven and eight year olds were competing — and the boy put them towards a basket he thought contained kid-friendly chocolate treats.
“There is no place for drugs at a child’s hockey tournament,” Redl continued. “Each team is usually responsible for putting a gift basket or prize package together with a minimum value of $50,” Redl said. “And then what they do is they have a big setup and they have a paper bag taped in front of each one of these prizes.”
Dawson Creek Minor Hockey published a statement that the products could not be accessed by kids, and that raffle winners were required to show their legal ID when they came to get their prizes.
That is precisely what happened when Redl’s son went to pick up his son’s raffle prize. He was informed the basket contained cannabis, and he opted to take home the bonanza anyway.
Kids and Cannabis and Canada
Would you believe that this is not even the first time this month that kids have come into contact with marijuana in Canada with widely publicized media coverage? In Eskakoni, Nova Scotia, an outside caterer delivered a molasses cake laced with cannabis to an elementary school, causing a number of kids and adults to feel ill, and necessitating a trip to the hospital for one adult.
“Our main concern is the health and safety of these children,” said Eskakoni Police Chief Leroy Denny. “I’m glad that everybody is fine, OK now, but it was a scare.”
For many policymakers, incidents like these are marijuana legalization’s worst case scenario. In various jurisdictions, harsh guidelines have been placed around packaging and marketing of cannabis products just so that they don’t appeal to children. Some of these restrictions have led cannabis-legal states to require bulky childproof packaging — an extreme use of materials that some have called “an environmental fiasco.”
Canada is no stranger to such regulations. Regulatory agency Health Canada’s strict guidelines around how many milligrams of THC can be included in a single package (but none around cannabis companies using environmentally-friendly materials) mean — well, more packaging.
How do we begin to square our kids’ safety with both environmental concerns and the need to de-stigmatize cannabis on a societal level? Surely, it comes down to education in the home. Just like they do with alcohol and other legal substances, parents and other family members are now in charge of telling kids what is and isn’t appropriate when it comes to cannabis.
Of course, families can’t be faulted for wishing this was all a little easier to navigate.
“I was a policeman for 32 years and you (…) try to protect people from stuff and then your eight-year-old grandson brings up running into this, it’s just ridiculous,” said Redl.