Even though cannabis use has been legalized in Canada, it still remains controversial and creates concern for some separated parents.
Issues for some parents include:
1. A permissive or open attitude towards drug use that could influence future drug use by the child;
2. Intoxication of a parent who is responsible for the care of the child while intoxicated;
3. Exposure to second hand smoke or inadvertently ingesting food or other products containing cannabis or the chemical properties in any form.
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For better or worse, parents cannot control the attitude or behaviour of each other. As such, parents may indeed expose their children to their own attitudes towards cannabis, much as parents may do with regard to alcohol, cigarettes or any other matter.
With regard to the care of a child, it is every parent’s responsibility to do so safely. If there is concern that a parent’s cannabis (or related chemical) use interferes with their care of the child, or puts the child at risk by, for example, driving intoxicated, then these become child protection matters. In these instances, people are to report their concern to a child protection agency (Children’s Aid Society).
According to the Ontario website, Justice for Children and Youth, “People under the age of 19 can consume alcohol only if it is supplied to them by their parent or legal guardian and it is consumed in their home in the presence of the parent or legal guardian.”
However, as it applies to cannabis, the age of use is restricted to persons 19 and older. Whereas some provinces and territories appear to prohibit the use of cannabis around children, it does not appear the case in Ontario at the time of writing this post. Thus, children may be subject to second hand smoke as they can with tobacco use. However, this still may be seen as a safety issue, in which case a report to a child protection agency could be necessary.
Parents are advised to seek constructive conversations with each other to determine concerns, attitudes and plans for the care of their children with regard to cannabis use and/or exposure in the same way they may address issues with regard to alcohol.