Le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis wor­ries this par­ent

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION - FARIHA NAQVI-MOHAMED Fariha Naqvi-Mohamed is the founder and ed­i­tor in chief of Cana­di­anMomEh.com, a life­style blog. twit­ter.com/cana­di­anmomeh

Start­ing Oct. 17, recre­ational mar­i­juana will be le­gal across the coun­try. While some are buzzed about the idea, many par­ents, my­self in­cluded, find our­selves more than a lit­tle con­cerned.

I worry about the im­pact it will have on my chil­dren, those around us and so­ci­ety in gen­eral.

As adults well know, just be­cause some­thing is le­gal does not mean that it’s good for you. Al­co­hol and to­bacco are al­ready le­gal to pur­chase and con­sume once you’re of age, but they are harm­ful sub­stances.

And for that mat­ter, just be­cause a sub­stance is il­le­gal does not mean peo­ple will re­frain from con­sum­ing it. Weed has been around for ages.

But le­gal­iz­ing some­thing that peo­ple are al­ready do­ing does bring it out of the shad­ows. I can­not help but won­der if this will trans­late into smelling smoke from weed while walk­ing down the streets of down­town Mon­treal, my home­town, more than we cur­rently do. And I imag­ine it will be­come more so­cially ac­cept­able to say you’re step­ping out for a joint, as you might say you’re step­ping out for a drink or smoke. I’m con­cerned about what mes­sage that will send to youth.

Sure, recre­ational cannabis will re­main pro­hib­ited for those be­low the le­gal age, but we all know youth will still be able to ob­tain it if they want to, and if any­thing, there will be more cannabis gen­er­ally avail­able.

As a par­ent, I need to be con­cerned about any­thing that can po­ten­tially be ad­dic­tive, be it drugs, al­co­hol or video games. Ad­dic­tion has the po­ten­tial to ruin peo­ple’s lives, in­clud­ing by in­ter­fer­ing with their suc­cess at school, and that is some­thing that needs to be con­sid­ered. I saw that first­hand this past sum­mer when my 10-year-old son and his friends be­came out­right ob­sessed with the lat­est rage, Fort­nite. Nip­ping that in the bud was sim­ple enough: con­fis­ca­tion of game con­trollers and the un­plug­ging of a cord. I was in­deed not the most pop­u­lar per­son at that mo­ment, but I did what needed to be done.

It is es­sen­tial to have these con­ver­sa­tions with our kids at home and not merely leave it to them to learn about cannabis in the halls of their high schools, CEGEPs or univer­sity.

In my con­ver­sa­tion with my own kids, I will not only stress that con­sum­ing cannabis is against our be­liefs and per­sonal val­ues, but also that even though it will be le­gal, le­gal­iza­tion does not make this a safe or good idea. I do not re­mem­ber ex­plic­itly ever be­ing told this by my own im­mi­grant par­ents grow­ing up, it was just some­thing we were ex­pected to know. We might think our chil­dren al­ready know this, given that chil­dren nowa­days have ac­cess to so much more in­for­ma­tion at such a young age than we ever did, but they may not have re­ceived this mes­sage in a suf­fi­ciently ex­plicit and frank way.

Clearly, there are pos­i­tive as­pects to the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana: I know it will bring some eco­nomic highs. I’m also hope­ful that le­gal­iza­tion will lead to a bet­ter con­trolled dis­tri­bu­tion network, al­low­ing adults to ac­cess a more le­git­i­mate, clean source. Many reg­u­larly use mar­i­juana both medic­i­nally as well as recre­ation­ally. It has its ben­e­fits. Are they enough to out­weigh the harm? That is some­thing I am not en­tirely con­vinced of.

But in the words of Kevin O’Leary, “You ei­ther make it il­le­gal, in which case you sup­port a huge un­der­ground econ­omy, or you tax it within the lim­its peo­ple can af­ford.” Prag­mat­i­cally that might be the only way to han­dle it, but we still need to do more to avoid hav­ing it fall into the hands of our youth and oth­ers, and to dis­cour­age its use.

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