Medical professionals cautioned Haliburton residents about the risks of cannabis consumption during a series of presentations Oct. 23.
Peterborough’s cannabis and youth clinical information team visited the Haliburton County Youth Hub to discuss cannabis and its effects. The presentation highlighted how the drug functions, its impacts and the longterm health risks for youth consumption.
Minden’s Dr. Nell Thomas organized the presentation. She said she is concerned about her patients abusing cannabis and wanted to counter some of the positive publicity the drug received after its 2018 legalization.
“We were concerned the message was only positive and marketing was overwhelming and the consumption of cannabis was being encouraged … we need to have some cautions,” Thomas said. “If the people in the medical field don’t provide words of caution, then I think we’re not doing our jobs.”
Pediatrician Dr. Peter Hughes said research on the health impacts of cannabis is limited due to its previous illegality. He described its psychoactive impacts, which can cause short-term memory loss, shorter attention span and poorer coordination. He further said although it affects the mind, people over the age of 25 are better able to recover.
“If you stop (using cannabis), you bounce right back almost right to base level,” Hughes said. “If you start doing this early in your adolescence … you are going to get lasting and permanent problems.”
Retired family physician Dr. Tom Bell talked about what drives youth to try cannabis, noting peer pressure, media influence and intense life issues as reasons. He recommended parents have open conversations with their kids about drugs and provide facts.
He added it is important to address the root issues which might drive someone to try cannabis.
“Focus is on harm reduction and sharing information,” Bell said. “Not punishing and not being critical of the child. You’re concerned, you have information that is worrisome and you’d like to see changes made.”
Youth Abe Churko attended the presentation and told the audience dialogue with family was important to keep kids from abusing the drug.
“Open dialogue with parents is super important,” Churko said. “I notice kids who were doing a lot definitely had bad home lives.”
The event attracted an audience of fewer than 20 people.
“I’m a little disappointed the teachers didn’t show up,” Thomas said. “Other than that, I think it was a good opportunity for people to talk.
“There’s so much money to be made,” she added. “We have vulnerable people, that many of them will get in trouble.”