Five things every parent needs to know about cannabis today

Your kids already know about pot


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Youth aged 15 to 24 have the highest prevalence of reported cannabis use

Cannabis today isn’t what it used to be. The world of cannabis has gone through a tremendous evolution since the baby boomer days of “smoking a little grass.” 

The younger generation of cannabis enthusiasts takes pride in their cannabis knowledge, moving beyond the simple smoking of a joint. Some of these now popular methods are vaporizing, slathering on infused topicals, toking extract-filled pens and dabbing (not the dance) concentrates. 

As Canada moves to legalize cannabis for adult use in July 2018, legislators are working hard to ensure the new legal regime offers a diverse selection of products to responsibly compete with the illegal market.

Although this is great news for cannabis enthusiasts of a legal age to access cannabis — 19 in Ontario — the inclusion of a robust selection of products can mean confusion for parents looking to restrict access by youth to cannabis. 

Youth aged 15 to 24 have the highest prevalence of reported cannabis use, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. 

Building your knowledge base of this new weed world is essential. To get you started, here is an overview of the trending products, ideas and terms that your kids likely already know about, and you should too.

1. THC content: Research from the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy shows that THC levels in cannabis over the last 30 years have increased by 300 per cent. The herb of your youth may have tested at three per cent THC content. The Sour Diesel of today can have a THC content as high as 25 per cent. This prevalence of high THC content means that taking a “start low and go slow” approach to dosing is essential for ensuring your elevated experience doesn’t get out of hand. 

2. Dabs: Cannabis extracts such as shatter are made through a variety of extraction methods, and can have a THC content of over 80 per cent. Extracts are typically consumed through the process of dabbing, which involves heating the solid extract through to its liquid and, eventually, vapour form. This is usually done by using a “dab rig” (a contraption that looks like a glass water pipe), a portable rig or a vaporizer. The terpene profile in cannabis extract is much less robust than dry bud, which means consumers may experience a more clear-headed high, as well as a more pronounced body buzz. 

However, dabbing cannabis is no laughing matter. High-THC products like shatter pose a risk for mental health conditions like schizophrenia. THC has the potential to trigger the onset of schizophrenia in youth pre-disposed to the condition, so any discussion of extracts should be accompanied by a healthy dose of risks and warnings. 

3. Smoking weed is overrated: Cannabis consumers today mix it up by consuming edibles, oils, topicals, extracts and vape pens. Vaporizing dry product or extract through vape pens involves a process called decarboxylation which does not burn any plant matter, but produces a vapour that is far less detrimental to the lungs. Oils and edibles provide an additional non-smoking avenue for those looking for long-lasting effects and a delicious treat. 

4. Using cannabis does not mean you will get high: Non-psychoactive cannabis use through topical applications and the consumption of CBD-dominant products is on the rise. CBD does not have any psychoactive properties and has been shown to promote feelings of wellness and decreased anxiety and inflammation, among others. Our body’s endocannabinoid system is found throughout our body and not just our brain, so topical application allows for localized effects at the site of application. 

5. Cannabis today means a variety of experiences: There are thousands of cannabis strains available today, and many can provide energizing, uplifting effects to help with fatigue and focus, as well as elevate your social game to a comfortable openness without impairment. 

Although your kids may know more than you when it comes to these cannabis products, they are not experts on the subject matter and still need the guidance of their parents, guardians and mentors to ensure responsible consumption.

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Ljubica Kostovic is a cannabis advocate and the director of communications and research at a medical cannabis education service.

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