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New report highlights the impact of cannabis on children

New report highlights the impact of cannabis on children

28.06.2024 - On June 19, 2024, the Narkotikapolitiskt Center (NPC) released a report focusing on the impact of cannabis on children. The release coincides with a seminar on June 25 during Almedalen Week, featuring a panel discussion with politicians and organizations. The seminar will be available for both live and digital attendance.

Emphasizing a child's rights perspective

The NPC report underscores the significance of including a child’s rights perspective in drug policy discussions. Notably, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the only human rights convention that mentions narcotics. Despite this, a clear child-rights approach is often missing in the national and international narcotics debate.

Effects of cannabis use on children

The report elaborates on how children's own use of cannabis and their parents' attitudes towards the drug affect them from pregnancy through childhood. It draws comparisons with Canada, where cannabis was legalized in 2018. In Canada, one in four parents now uses cannabis for recreational purposes, despite knowing that children growing up with cannabis-using parents are at a higher risk of neglect, exposure to smoke, and acute poisoning. This situation highlights the importance of integrating a child’s perspective in shaping drug policies.

Insights from the authors

Authored by Ida Crispien and Misrî Kasirga, political science students at the Swedish Defence University and Linnaeus University, the report represents a collaboration between NPC and the children's organization Junis. While NPC supports the publication, it does not necessarily endorse all the views expressed.

In his foreword, Peter Moilanen, director of NPC, stresses that article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child explicitly mandates protecting children from illicit drug use and trafficking. He criticizes the argument that individuals should have the right to choose drug use, arguing that children have the right to grow up in a safe environment with attentive parents.

Key findings and recommendations

The report's key findings emphasize the need to shield children and young people from cannabis use, especially considering the significant harm during brain development. It illustrates how parental cannabis use, from pregnancy through childhood, negatively affects children. The report also notes that a more liberal approach to cannabis in a country seems to correlate with increased usage among parents. For example, in Canada, over a quarter of parents use cannabis recreationally, leading to greater availability of cannabis products in homes and more cases of acute poisoning among young children.

The report calls for learning from countries where cannabis policies have negatively impacted children and for promoting policies that support a drug-free environment for children. It outlines several crucial measures:

  • Sweden must lead by ensuring child rights guide decisions in drug policy, both nationally and internationally.

  • Strengthening preventive measures for children and adolescents while maintaining policies that reduce parental cannabis use.

  • Enhancing support systems for families affected by addiction, ensuring both children and parents receive necessary interventions.

  • Keeping the cannabis industry away from shaping policies that impact children's rights and public health.

The report by NPC and Junis highlights the urgent need for a child-centric approach to drug policy, stressing the importance of protecting children's rights and promoting their well-being. As debates around cannabis policies continue, this report serves as a critical reminder of the potential risks and the necessity for careful consideration of children's perspectives in policy-making.

The full report is available for download here.

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