Weed Like to Know
Welcome to Weed Like to Know!
This “Chatbot” tool is for parents and other adult influencers of youth, and youth (10-14 years old) who have likely not used cannabis yet. Although adult use of non-medical (recreational) cannabis is legal in Canada as of October 17, 2018, it’s not risk-free, especially for children and teens. Everyone is talking about it, but, not everyone has the same level of knowledge. This Chatbot tool is:
- Designed to assist with adult-youth conversations about the drug, its effects, and reasons youth use or don’t use
- Designed to promote delaying use among youth
- Based on current evidence
If you need to talk with adolescents who have already tried or are currently using cannabis, the tool is still of value, especially in terms of information about harm reduction. If a teen doesn’t want to engage with you to use this tool together, use it on your own and apply what you learn in future conversations with them.
Why delaying use until older is better…
While most people do not experience serious problems with cannabis use, and there are a number of reasons why someone might, there is evidence the earlier and more often youth use cannabis, their chances are higher of experiencing:
- problems learning, memory, and attention
- social anxiety, episodes of psychoses (and Schizophrenia, especially if a family history)
- other substance use in adulthood
- chronic cough and wheezing
There is also evidence these negative outcomes may be reversed if use stops. Youth who initiate cannabis use early are also at an increased risk for becoming dependent compared to older users. Among adults who consume cannabis, 1 in 10 will be dependent, while among youth this increases to 1 in 6, and 1 in 2 for daily consumers.
Elevated risks may in part be caused by changes to the developing brain which doesn’t reach full development until age 25, but more research is needed to fully understand this. To promote delaying the age of onset of cannabis use, or any substance, start a conversation with them at an early age (e.g., 10 years) and keep it going. This may vary depending on whether there are older youth in the home, or if either a parent or older sibling uses cannabis as to how early you need to start talking about it.
Tool features to boost interactive communication…
Weed Like to Know uses a text message style format to facilitate learning and dialogue in an engaging, convenient, and fun way:
- Try the ice-breaker charades feature to learn about key words and definitions
- Test each other’s knowledge by answering quiz questions
- Think about what you would do in various scenarios you or your child may find yourselves
If you’re busy (and who isn’t?) start with a few minutes — or keep going if you’re having fun! Return over time to continue to learn and discuss. One shot talks are rarely as useful as ongoing communication.
When to use the tool…
Take your cue to start a dialogue about cannabis when:
- Your child comes to you with a question or mentions something they’ve heard
- Your child brings home information they have gotten at school
- You and your child have witnessed someone on TV or in a movie talking about, or using cannabis
Remember, whenever you begin your dialogue, ask what your child already knows and take it from there. Be open, non-judgemental, stick to the “facts” we know, and always listen. Spending time together using the chatbot can benefit your relationship as well as your knowledge!