Discovering Ways to Communicate Safer Cannabis Decisions for Canada’s Youth

Canada’s legalization of cannabis in 2018 presented new research opportunities for Humber College Bachelor of Criminal Justice professor Dr. Daniel Bear.

Since 2003, Bear’s experiences have extended from studying drug policing in the United Kingdom, medical cannabis use in California, and understanding ways to discuss responsible recreational cannabis use among today’s youth.
When NSERC announced the College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) call for proposals last year, Bear identified an opportunity to develop a research project aimed at positively impacting long-term cannabis consumption practices among young adults. This proposal built on preliminary research Bear had conducted which was supported by Humber’s Cultivate research fund.

Canada’s early cannabis legalization presented the chance to be a leader in creating public education materials aimed at communicating harm reduction information.

“Young people deserve information that is both evidence-informed and engaging, said Bear, adding a simple goal comes from providing practical guides to youth across Canada. “They want to make good and healthy decisions around their use of cannabis.”

Phase one of the three-year research project will involve gathering data necessary to understand what new public education materials need to be developed. Bear will do this by conducting a Canada-wide online survey and a series of virtual focus groups.

For young people between the ages of 18 to 30, he believes it is important to identify the types of public health messages they respond to. “We’re not living the same experience as someone who’s 25,” Bear said. “Being able to connect with young adults provides helpful insights and is a core aspect of our work.”

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy is a partner on this project, and Bear hopes to partner with other non-profits within the Canadian cannabis community as the project moves forward.

Together, Bear and the Canadian cannabis community are looking to discover the right language for responsible recreational use as youth continue to develop their interests.


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