Hash It Out: The Experiences of IRER Youth With Cannabis and Mental Health


Hash It Out: The Experiences of IRER Youth With Cannabis and Mental Health

1 year ago 1 year ago Published by
This report was published by The Centre For Resilience & Social Development.


The Hash It Out: Community-based Research on IRER Youth Cannabis and Mental Health project addresses the knowledge gaps in the relationship between cannabis and mental health among immigrant, refugee, ethnocultural, and racialized (IRER) youth aged 18 to 30 years old. Findings highlight the tensions in which IRER youth experience cannabis use and mental health, where their agency and consistent effort to nurture their physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing to the best of their capacity is met by their systemic responsibilization (i.e., in which exposure to risk is framed as an “individual choice”) that does not recognize the systemic barriers, discrimination, and lack of resources they experience in navigating cannabis information and mental health services.

Youth highlighted that current healthcare practices and policies, as well as information about cannabis targeted towards young people, often fail to recognize youth’s ability to make sound decisions for themselves. Youth often encountered restrictive and one-size-fits-all responses from healthcare providers to their mental health needs that were insucient to address their specific contexts and challenges. Our engagement with IRER youth indicates that such approaches are not only ineffective in addressing challenges youth experience, but they can also be a source of harm and disenfranchisement in young people’s lives.

Youth identified a series of recommendations aimed at services and education that include culturally appropriate and representative services and supports, while also addressing the power imbalances that young people experience when they make decisions. Research participants proposed solutions to address systemic discrimination against IRER community members and the stigmatization and punitive responses towards youth cannabis use in policy. Youth emphasized that solutions must work to empower youth to make the best decisions for their wellbeing, while working to deconstruct the various systems that limit what those choices are.

Given the overwhelmingly positive response from participants on the importance of research designed and led by and for youth themselves, next steps should focus on ways to continue to learn from IRER youth in communities across Canada.

The Centre For Resilience & Social Development. (2023). Hash It Out: The Experiences of IRER Youth With Cannabis and Mental Health.

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