Youth-Led Development of Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines for Individuals Aged 13 To 18: A Pathway to Better Mental Health and Wellness

Funding body

CIHR Catalyst Grant: Cannabis and Mental Health


Among Canadian youth, rates of cannabis use are increasing and the age at which youth first try cannabis is decreasing. At the same time, a growing body of literature highlights the role that early initiation, chronic use, heavy use, misuse among inexperienced users, and multiple forms and modes of cannabis consumption as key moderators of cannabis use.

In Canada, the best guidelines available for safer cannabis use come from lower risk cannabis use guidelines. However, due to the prohibition against cannabis use among age <18 youth in Canada, few guidelines relate to reducing harms for them specifically. The overall goal of this project is to engage youth affiliated with the VYCF in dialogue about Canada’s adult-focused low risk cannabis guidelines and seek their advice about how to adjust the guidelines to better meet the needs and concerns of their age cohort.

To this end, this study will leverage a participatory and action-oriented program design that prioritizes lived experience. We aim to build capacity among youth who use cannabis by helping them develop critical research experiences and giving them opportunities to work as research associates on this project.

Youth engagement will be organized around 11 working group (WG) meetings that will inform the design, implementation, and interpretation of results from three primary activities: (1) the launch of a quantitative survey to identify life course and event-level factors associated with positive and negative experiences using cannabis, (2) an evaluation of the acceptability and appropriateness of existing adult-focused lower risk cannabis use guidelines for youth, and (3) draft of preliminary lower risk cannabis use guidelines for youth based on results of our systematic review, preliminary results from our quantitative survey and in-depth consultations with experiential youth.

Progress to date

Staff have been hired, ethics approvals have been attained, data collection is underway, and one article has been submitted for peer review.