Vancouver School Board educating youth about marijuana ahead of legalization

Recreational cannabis use will not be permitted at Trent University or Fleming College. CKWS Newsfile

The Vancouver School Board says it’s not taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to marijuana legalization next month, according to Art Steinmann, manager of substance use and health promotion.

“You know, we’re also not panicking and being alarmed and overly worried that suddenly youth who’ve never used marijuana are all gonna start using marijuana,” Steinmann said. “That’s probably not too realistic.”

But Steinmann says the board is working with Vancouver Coastal Health to educate youth about cannabis through a program called SACY.

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“We’re being quite proactive in strengthening and planning a lot of activities and, you know, pieces of resources and programs that we’re gonna roll out throughout the year and the years ahead,” Steinmann said.

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He says it’s about strengthening youth’s ability to make healthy choices when they’re dealing with curiosity, boredom or mental health challenges — such as anxiety — to prevent them from turning to cannabis, drugs or alcohol.

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“We have staff out in the schools delivering programs and doing activities with youth,” Steinmann said. “We also do quite a bit of work with parents and helping provide them with skills and knowledge around communication and keeping a connection with their youth.”

READ MORE: Canada could be a leader in the global cannabis market — if the rules loosen up: experts

“So it could take the shape of small groups, with our staff working with small groups of youth after school or at ‘lunch and learns,'” he said. “It could take the shape of… leading classroom dialogue discussions — we do over 40 parent-education workshops every year — so there’s a variety of ways that we get at this. We will be producing a short video on cannabis over the course of the year.”

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Steinmann says he doesn’t anticipate any significant changes to current policies which include prohibiting students from attending school or school functions while under the influence of any intoxicating, banned or controlled substances.

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