Pubdate: Tue, 17 Apr 2018
Source: Richmond News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018, Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Bronwyn Beairsto


On the eve of 4/20, CBC is hosting a panel to give kids and parents
the information they need before anyone tokes up.

Titled 4/19, the free evening event at Vancouver Technical secondary
hosted by CBC's Gloria Macarenko is aimed at informing teenagers and
their parents about the medical, social and legal impacts of cannabis
use for youth, with legalization in sight.

Experts range from youth workers and police officers to lawyers and
scientists, covering all aspects of this hazy issue.

"They haven't rolled out enough information for teenagers and their
parents," said the event's producer, Anne Penman. She hopes this
evening will clear the air - at least a little.

"It's unreasonable to think that teenagers won't try it," said Penman,
adding that the panel discussion is about opening a dialogue.

Penman is cautious about impending marijuana legalization this summer.
"It's going to make it look like it's harmless," she said.
"Legalization of recreational cannabis is going to socially sanction
cannabis like alcohol."

Indeed, with the federal marijuana legalization bill now passing
through the senate, cannabis will soon occupy similar legal ground to

According to a 2017 study by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
and Addiction, after alcohol, cannabis is the most used substance in

The same study noted that 33 per cent of students in grade 12 in
Canada reported use in the past year, and that B.C. has highest
prevalence of cannabis use at 17.3 per cent.

One of Penman's concerns is the effect of cannabis on brain
development, something that has garnered a lot of debate among scientists.

University of British Columbia professor and researcher for the B.C.
Centre on Substance Use, M-J Milloy says the link between cannabis and
brain development is still merely by association.

"There's a great number of scientists worldwide working on this issue,
but there's been no smoking gun," Milloy said.

Zach Walsh, another UBC researcher specializing in cannabis, concurs.
"The evidence is weaker than the rhetoric."

According to Walsh, there appears to be a link between schizophrenia
and other psychosis and marijuana use, but this could just be an
association rather than causal.

He notes that there's been a dramatic increase in cannabis use in
recent years, especially in Canada, but schizophrenia levels have
stayed stagnant.

Nonetheless, he says people with underlying mental health conditions
or who are at a high risk "should refrain as long as possible."

Researcher and 4/19 panelist Annie Smith has spoken with kids in
schools about cannabis use and finds there's a lot of misinformation,
such as students believing it improves driving or studying ability.

"It's all about having a discourse," Smith said. "Some kids are really
well informed, some kids get their information from their friends."

The event runs 7:30 to 9 p.m. Seats can be reserved online at
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MAP posted-by: Matt