MONCTON – A new study commissioned by marijuana producer Organigram found that Atlantic Canadian parents are more supportive of legalization than parents in other parts of the country, and feel more prepared to educate their kids about the risks.
The online survey conducted by Environics Research, covered 1,005 Canadian parents with children under 18 years old living in their home at least part-time.
It found that 60 per cent of parents in the country are worried about cannabis legalization and more than half feel there’s not enough information available to youth about the risks of cannabis use. Nationally, only one-third of parents feel “very prepared” to educate their children about cannabis.
But in Atlantic Canada, more than half of parents are unconcerned by legalization, and 39 per cent strongly support it. Forty-three per cent also feel very prepared to educate their children about cannabis.
Organigram’s Chief Commercial Officer Ray Gracewood told Huddle that this reflects a strong correlation between Atlantic Canadians’ usage rate and their comfort level in talking about it.
“What we found not just through our research, but also other research, is that some of the highest usage rates actually occur in the Maritime provinces. So for us, it’s not much of a surprise to say that there’s a higher level of comfort talking about it,” he said.
Research shows cannabis use is currently highest among parents in Atlantic Canada (20 per cent) and British Columbia (16 per cent). Potential reported use is also highest among Atlantic Canadian parents (22 per cent).
“From a business perspective, I think what it means is we focus on education right across the country and hopefully there’s more openness to that education here in the Maritimes,” he said. “Obviously, we choose to work and live here, and a lot of our time is spent in providing educational services within the Maritimes … it means our job would [hopefully] be a little bit easier than it might be in other provinces.”
Gracewood says education has been a “massive priority” for the company since it started. But the survey showed the need to communicate to parents about available resources. It also shows a gap in available information for youth about risks related to cannabis use, he said.
“The top of the list in terms of those priorities are things such as not driving under the influence, how to turn down offers to try cannabis, and even more important to us is something like how do kids understand how cannabis may inter-react with alcohol or other drugs within their system,” Gracewood explained. “We think there’s a huge opportunity for Canadian parents not only to get educated about legalization but also to understand there’s a lot of resources available, both within the private and public sector.”
Parents also feel the need to have information on topics related to the perception that cannabis use leads to harder drugs, the comparative effects of different forms of cannabis, and the likelihood of marijuana use leading to tobacco use.
Organigram has an online library of resources on their website for parents seeking key tools to help them get more comfortable with the issue ahead of legalization in October. The company is also working on various projects related to harm reduction initiatives, including one with the New Brunswick government and Mount Allison University.
“Working in tandem with Mount Allison, we’re looking to develop a system specifically for post-secondary students to help them understand not only what legalization of cannabis means but also sort of, what people need to be aware of and how they can better understand things like dosage control or being able to identify signs of impairment or things of that nature,” he said.
The project is just beginning and will be led by the Sackville, N.B.-based university. Gracewood is hoping it will lead to a program that can be put in place in post-secondary institutions across Canada to help understand risks related to cannabis use.