Dr. Michael Verbora
Chief Medical Officer, Aleafia Total Health
Chief Commercial Officer, Organigram
Protecting youth is one of the primary goals of recreational cannabis legalization, but new survey data reveals that 60 percent of Canadian parents have significant concerns about this historic moment for our country.
The survey — which was commissioned by the licensed producer OrganiGram — also found that 54 percent of parents feel there’s not enough information currently available to youth regarding the risks associated with cannabis use. Dr. Michael Verbora, Chief Medical Officer at Aleafia Total Health, understands their concerns.
He notes that the most important thing is getting accurate information to parents. “There’s a lot of information on both sides,” he says. “One day there are stories about how cannabis is beneficial and therapeutic, and other days, how it’s harmful. As a member of the public, it’s not easy to figure out what to believe.”
Building understanding through education
The survey also found that Canadian parents feel it’s important to have information available on topics such as the perception that cannabis use can lead to the use of ‘harder’ drugs, the effects of different forms of cannabis, and the likelihood of cannabis use leading to tobacco use.
Parents felt strongly about educating youth about the importance of not driving under the influence of cannabis, the potential negative effects of cannabis use, and how to turn down offers to use cannabis.
“As we move toward the legalization of cannabis, this feedback offers all of us abetter sense of what’s keeping Canadian parents up at night,” says Ray Gracewood, Chief Commercial Officer at OrganiGram. “By asking parents how they feel, we have a clearer picture of the opportunities we have to collaborate with industry partners, government, health care professionals, and educators to address their concerns.”
I’m quite optimistic that, overall, this is going to be a positive experience for society.Dr. Michael Verbora, Chief Medical Officer, Aleafia Total Health
Everyone plays a role
Dr. Verbora suggests that it will be critical to look for a variety of ways to offer parents balanced, accurate information about the responsible use of both medical and recreational cannabis. “We can achieve this through things like town halls and online education, and by encouraging parents to discuss this openly with their physicians and their children,” he says.
For instance, OrganiGram has recently launched a Parent Resource Library which provides access to educational information from sources including the CanadianCentre on Substance Use and Addiction, the Government of New Brunswick, and Health Canada.
Dr. Verbora also notes that the government will play a critical role when it comes to regulating exactly what cannabis companies can say to Canadians, and that the first priority for licensed producers now should be to develop safe products.
For more information on the Parent Resource Library, visit organigram.ca/parentresources.