M. Hull, RCMP photo Haida Elder Sphenia Jones is watched by Wendell Williams as she tries to navigate catching a ball and walking with the marijuana simulation goggles at the RCMP hosted Community Cannabis Engagement Workshop held on Jan. 27 at Sarah’s Longhouse.

Community engaged in cannabis and vaping 101

RCMP held workshops on cannabis and vaping

The local Haida Gwaii community stood behind the RCMP on Jan. 27, to support education about vaping and cannabis. A community invitation was issued for a public cannabis dialogue workshop held at Sarah’s Longhouse.

Three workshops in total were funded by the Masset detachment, with a grant received from the RCMP National Youth Services, to be used for youth engagement activities focused on cannabis awareness. The two youth focused workshops were held at Guydangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary School and Tahaygen Elementary for grades 5 to 7 students.

All three workshops were lead by Vijay Morancie, RCMP cannabis engagement coordinator for British Columbia and Yukon. Morancie works in crime reduction and is now spearheading this new unit. She has had extensive training and education on the subject and travels to various locations to share her knowledge.

It was a pleasant surprise to Masset RCMP First Nations Policing Officer, Michael Hull, how positively the community and students embraced the workshops which were like cannabis and vaping 101, he said.

There were some questions prior to the workshops about if the information provided was going to be pro-cannabis or anti-cannabis.

“It was neither,” said Const. Hull, “There was no negative slant. We were talking about health and legal issues.”

The numbers of youth vaping in Canada has risen by 74 per cent between 2017 to 2018 according to a recent study published in the British Columbia Medical Journal. It is especially concerning for youth because 50 per cent of non-nicotine e-juice does actually have nicotine in it, Const. Hull said. Most of the students indicated they had tried vaping, do it themselves, or know someone close to them who does.

“I was quite surprised at the knowledge level of the students on the subject. There was lots of interest and lots of questions. The grades five to seven kids knew so many flavours, like bubble-gum, watermelon, there are approximately 8000 flavours of e-juice,” Const. Hull said.

Several students stayed behind after the workshops finished to ask more questions and to try the marijuana simulation goggles. The glasses simulate how you may feel under the influence of marijuana. There were exercises like trying to catch a ball and walking heel to toe while wearing the goggles to show how cannabis can affect judgment and perception.

“We discussed with the students that this is all new stuff. The kids realize they are the guinea pigs and that we don’t know the long term affects that vaping could have. The students are smart, intelligent young people. It was about giving them factual information so they can make the choices that are right for them. We just wanted to offer education,” Const. Hull said.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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