Cannabis and child and youth safety

All children deserve to be safe, healthy, and protected from harm. That’s why the Province has taken important steps to protect youth and children from using non-medical cannabis at an early age.

In British Columbia,

  • You must be 19 years or older to buy, consume (through smoking, vaping and all other forms of consumption), possess, or grow non-medical cannabis. Early and regular non-medical cannabis use is associated with higher risks of dependency and health problems later in life
  • Smoking or vaping cannabis is banned in areas where children and youth frequently hang out and play, including parks, sports fields and playgrounds
  • Consumption of non-medical cannabis (in all forms) is banned on K-12 school properties and on adjacent sidewalks and boulevards, in vehicles, and on boats while being operated
  • Youth under 19 years of age are banned from entering cannabis stores and cannot work in the cannabis industry
  • It is an offence to sell or supply non-medical cannabis to individuals under 19 and there are strict penalties

All packaging and labelling for cannabis is regulated by the federal government. Strict limits on the look and feel are intended to make it less appealing to youth.

Youth will learn about substance use, including cannabis, in school from Kindergarten to Grade 10 through BC’s Physical Health Education curriculum. Topics include:

  • Preventing personal harm
  • Reasons people use drugs
  • Physical, social, and emotional aspects of substance use
  • Addiction and addictive behaviours

Parents and mentors

Parents and mentors play an important role in helping young people make healthy and informed decisions about cannabis. But talking to youth about cannabis can be difficult if you don’t know the facts.

What do you need to know about cannabis?

Cannabis can affect your health:

  • Frequent heavy cannabis use in your teens and early 20s may lead to physical changes in your brain, since your brain is going through rapid development
  • Like cigarettes, smoking cannabis is harmful to your lungs
  • Frequent heavy cannabis use is associated with problems with memory, thinking, and attention span
  • Frequent heavy cannabis use may increase the risk of mental health issues, like psychosis, anxiety and depression

Check out these resources to help you have open conversations with your kids about cannabis: