“Teen Mental Health” fights cannabis misinformation and Shows its own biases

“Teen Mental Health” Struggles cannabis misinformation and Shows its own biases

To get ready for Canada’s Oct. 17 cannabis legalization, educational campaigns are kicking off throughout the country to educate students, parents, teachers and school-based student care providers around adolescent cannabis use.

One such effort is being spearheaded by Teen Mental Health.   Dr. Stan Kutcher, the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health, said:

“There’s a lot of misinformation about cannabis use out there. That’therefore it was critical to create evidence-based resources to correctly answer questions Canadians may have leading up to (and after) cannabis legalization. ” 

Adolescent years are a critical period for brain growth and development, and regular cannabis use can have negative impacts on a teenager’s brain. Use may also impair memory, judgment, problem solving, coordination and learning. It can cause psychosis, anxiety, and anxiety.

That’therefore during the legalization process, legislators were especially concerned about cannabis’ effects on teenagers. Recommendations for the legal age to consume cannabis ranged between 18-25 years old and ultimately, the provinces decided to align the age to consume cannabis with the legal age for drinking, so you have to be at least 19 years old with the exception of Quebec and Alberta, where it is 18.

Legislators have also cracked down hard on providing cannabis to childhood to a ludicrous level. According to the National Post, if an 18 or 19-year-old got caught passing a joint to a 16 or 17-year-old buddy, they’re facing a maximum 14 years in prison! Whereas giving alcohol to a minor carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison or a $10,000 fine (or both).

After alcohol, cannabis is the most common drug used by Canadian teens.  Dr. Phil Tibbo, Nova Scotia Health Authority/Dalhousie University, said:

“Regular cannabis use, starting use youthful and using cannabis with high THC can lead to detrimental mental health effects.

It’s important that youth have reliable information to make informed decisions about cannabis use”.

Teen Mental Health states “it is dispersing its cannabis infographics to schools and youth organizations across Canada in the hopes of providing best available evidence-based information”, but a quick look in their infographics reveals some misinformation of their own.

While Teen Mental Health has multiple infographics available on their website purportedly targeted specifically to students, caregivers, teachers, and clinicians, the infographics are largely the same with only little variations between them, the largest being between the pupil ’s infographic along with the other three. Only two infographics were really necessary- one for students and one for everybody else. While it’s not a massive issue, it is misleading (or a sign of laziness) that they’re trying to show that they have this technical information when in reality they’re simply changing a couple words about (replacing “instructor ” with “parent”, by way of instance ).

The biggest difference between the infographic for students and everybody else (teachers, caregivers, and clinicians) is that the students’ infographic does not include a lengthy list of “Effects and Evidence of Cannabis Use” that mentions everything from psychosis, vomiting, feeling joyful, and overdose.

The infographics lean heavily on cannabis abstinence and also the “Just say no” mentality (you can practically hear the teens rolling their eyes ) And while Teen Mental Health claims to be trying to combat cannabis misinformation, quotes like “there is no safe amount of cannabis” show their bias. That’s like saying there’s no “safe” amount of alcohol, which is absurd because it’s all about being responsible.

Other examples include:

“Cannabis is a drug that can be produced from plants”.

Wrong! Cannabis is not a drug produced from plants, it actually is a plant!

“CBD is currently being analyzed to determine possible medical benefits.

If cannabis is still being researched for its “possible medical benefits” as the infographic claims, then why did Health Canada legalize medical cannabis all the way back in 2001? Over a dozen countries in the world have also legalized medical cannabis and over half of the states in the USA have too, and this wouldn’t have happened if cannabis’ medical benefits were TBD.

That’s not to say that all the information is bad, simply to take it with a grain of salt and keep an eye out for needless fear-mongering. Teen drinking is just as much a problem (if not larger ) as adolescent cannabis use but because drinking is already so widely accepted in society, it’s more frequently than not viewed as a rite of passage. That’s dangerous because drinking too much can kill you, whereas nobody has ever died from smoking a lot of cannabis- though synthetic cannabinoids are very dangerous and another story altogether.

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Released at Fri, 05 October 2018 18:42:32 +0000

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