Local cannabis conversation event to help parents talk to youth

Posted on: April 12, 2017

Matthew Behrens

As the federal government readies its plan to legalize marijuana use, parents and caregivers are invited to attend an April 20 event designed to help open honest conversation with teenagers and parents.

David Simpii, a member of the Carleton Place’s municipal drug strategy committee, told town council on April 11 that marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug by young people aged 15-24, with Canadians of all ages among the world’s highest consumers of the drug.

Given the drug’s prohibited status for over 90 years, Simpii said that scientific evidence on its effects are not nearly as robust as they could be.

While marijuana has been shown to have significant benefits for veterans battling post-traumatic stress, Simpii noted more evidence is needed to determine the drug’s long-term effects on all age groups.

Of particular concern, he said, is the risk to young people who are heavy users of the drug, given potential impacts on developing brains.

The event, titled The Cannabis Conversation will feature expert advice from such locals as Perth family physician Manuela Joannou, OPP community safety officer Greg Streng, Mike Souliere of the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, Mike Beauchesne from the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, and registered nurse Morgan Crew of Lanark County Mental Health. The meeting’s intent is to provoke discussion not to judge the merits of legalization.

To ensure the event (taking place from 6:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. on April 20 at the Carleton Place arena’s upper level) is as accessible as possible, a supervised childcare area will be made available, along with refreshments.

Sompii shared concerns that attendance is not guaranteed given the stigma around substance abuse, but hoped that local promotion, combined with the event falling on the same day as the annual 4/20 event that rallies pot supporters, will help bring out large numbers of those interested in learning more and ensuring their children have the information they need to make healthy decisions.