Aphria Educates is Aphria Inc’s new cannabis education program mandated to educate Canadian adults on responsible use of all cannabis products legally and currently available.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Michelle Latinsky, Aphria’s Director of Education, and I focus on educating consumers on cannabis so that they can better understand the characteristics of the plant and navigate through the cannabis landscape in an informed manner.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce the #AphriaEducates program and its first-ever #AphriaEducates event in Toronto and Vancouver. On October 2nd and 3rd, I moderated a dual-city educational panel developed closely with Drug Free Kids Canada, titled Aphria Educates with Drug Free Kids Canada. The panel focused on furthering awareness around the potential harms of cannabis for youth, helping parents navigate the ever-evolving cannabis landscape and offering tips on how to convey those harms to youth.

The panelists included:
○ Susan Hutt, Community Programs Manager, Drug Free Kids Canada
○ Nikita Stanley and Aleks Jassem from The Rebel Mama
○ Cameron Brown, Communications Officer, The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co (Toronto)
○ Andrew Gordon, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Community at Kiaro (Vancouver)

I was truly honoured to have had the opportunity to moderate this group of panelists and learn more about everyone’s perspectives on this topic.

We have come a long way in the one year since cannabis legalization in Canada. A year ago, there was more stigma attached to use. Parents were afraid to ask questions. In fact, according to research from Drug Free Kids Canada, only one in five (20%) parents have had one or no conversations with their teen about drug use and abuse in the past year. That same number of parents claim they do not know what to say when discussing drugs with their children.

This is shifting. I am now seeing many people who want to know more about cannabis and how they can keep it out of the hands of children and youth. Parents who use cannabis are asking for help in navigating this new reality. Many of them want to know how they can safely store it at home, how they can responsibly use it, and how they can comfortably have a conversation to educate youth on the harms of cannabis.

This was evident when both events had a full house of attendees join us for the panel discussions, listening intently and asking thought-provoking questions to learn more about responsible use of legal cannabis for adults.

Here are some of the key takeaways from these events:

  • Start the conversation from a place of love. We need to approach cannabis use in the same waywe want to protect our kids by teaching them to wear a seatbelt in cars, wear a helmet when riding a bike or not to drink and drive.. Talking about risks of use before legal age and how it can affect brain development before the age of 25 for example, are important considerations to ensure your child is aware of.
  • Normalize the way we think about cannabis. The same way you think about storing cleaning products, medication and alcohol away from children, practice a common sense approach when you keep cannabis in the home. Never store edibles in your purse, or in the kitchen pantry where kids can have easy access and/or it can easily be mixed up with non-cannabis food items.
  • Understand the difference between consumption methods. Consuming by inhalation and ingesting cannabis are not the same. Inhaling takes effect quickly, but it can take two to four hours before you may feel the effects of an edible. Many people will take an edible and feel fine, and then drive shortly after without realizing the effects have not yet set in.
  • Know what’s legal. Legal vapes are not currently available for sale in Canada and neither are edibles. If you are purchasing and using these products right now, they are coming from a non-regulated, grey/black market where there is no way to guarantee the ingredients used in these products. This is why a regulated market is so important and necessary to ensure quality control of cannabis products distributed to Canadian consumers.

Let’s keep these conversations going. We are the first generation of parents to live through cannabis legalization and we need to support each other while we navigate these new waters and ensure that our youth are educated on the potential harms of cannabis before legal age.

#AphriaEducates will continue to support this important matter, and I look forward to future events where we can continue to engage Canadians on the responsible use of cannabis.

Written by: Michelle Latinsky, Director of Education, Aphria Inc.