Cannabis – Issues, Trends, and Impacts

Cannabis Education Resources


  • Students engage in an Open Space Technology activity to take responsibility for what they are interested in discussing regarding local and international trends and issues related to substance use, addictions, and their impact on society, such as those related to cannabis use.
  • Students use a News Wall, Dialogue Reflection session, and a KWHLQ chart to communicate their understanding of the local and global trends and issues related to cannabis use and its impact on society.
  • This activity may be used as part of a unit of learning about local and global issues and trends related to substance use, addictions, and their impact on society in order to generate student interest in further inquiry on the topic.
  • This activity may be used as part of a unit of learning. It may also be used as a follow-up activity to the Grade 12 activity, “Consequences of Cannabis Misuse – Your Choices”.

Curriculum Expectations

1.5, C3.3

Materials Needed

  • Chart paper, markers, and sticky notes
  • KWHLQ Chart for each student

Learning Goals

  • We are learning to analyze trends and issues related to cannabis use.
  • We are learning about the impact these trends and issues have on our society.

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can identify local and international trends and issues related to cannabis.
  • I can analyze the impact these trends and issues have on society.

Opportunities For Assessment

  • During the Minds On, use the KWHLQ chart and the results from the Think Aloud strategy to assess prior learning about local and international trends and issues related to cannabis use and their impact on society.
  • During the Action, observe small-group conversations in order to assess what students know and what they might need to know more about regarding trends and issues related to cannabis use and their impact on society.
  • At the conclusion of the Consolidation, use the large-group discussion and the questions students generate on their KWHLQ chart to assess what they have learned about local and international trends and issues related to cannabis use and their impact on society.


  • Share the Learning Goals with students and co-create Success Criteria.
  • Provide students with background information in order to increase their awareness and understanding of trends and issues related to cannabis use and their impact on society, such as:
  • Provide students with time during class to read the information provided and select the content that is of most interest to them or content they would like to know more about. Alternatively, have students complete this portion of the activity before class, using a Flipped Classroom approach.
  • Give students a focus statement or question that will prompt opportunities for them to have a small-group discussion about local and international trends related to use of substances such as cannabis and analyze how these impact society:
    • Major social, economic, and political issues are associated with cannabis use, its production, distribution, legalization, medical use, and legal implications, in Ontario, across Canada, and internationally. What are the issues in each case? How are they similar? How are they different? What are their implications for each of the societies involved? How might these issues impact a person traveling between countries with different laws? (Adapted from The Ontario Curriculum Grade 9 to 12 Health and Physical Education, p. 159)
  • Provide students with a graphic organizer such as a KWHLQ Chart.
  • Have students use their KWHLQ Chart (or other GO) to record their ideas as they reflect on what they already know about the focus question and how they might respond to it. Have students complete this task individually or using a strategy such as Think Aloud with an elbow partner.


  • Invite students to set up chairs in a circle, leaving space in the centre.
  • Post chart paper in an area of the room and label it AGENDA. Divide the agenda into two sections: First Session and Second Session. Designate another area of the room as the News Wall, where groups will post the summary of their small-group discussions during each of the two Sessions.
  • Put sticky notes and coloured felt pens on a table in the centre of the circle.
  • Explain the following elements of Open Space Technology:
    • The question (posed by individual students on their KWHLQ chart)
    • The process the group will follow to organize and create a record of the discussion of the question posed
    • Where to post student-generated questions (Agenda)
    • Where to find out what is happening after small group discussions (News Wall)
    • The Law of Two Feet:
      • Students take responsibility for what they care about by using their own two feet to move to whatever place they can best contribute and/or learn. Students have the freedom to move between discussions at any time.
    • The Principles of Open Space Technology:
      • Whoever comes are the right people
      • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened
      • Whenever it starts is the right time
      • When it’s over, it’s over
  • Set up an Agenda space and a News Wall space, writing Agenda and News Wall each on one piece of chart paper or on an area of the board, where students can attach sticky notes.
  • Invite students to determine aspects of the focus question from the Minds On that they are interested in discussing further. Once students have determined their specific interest, invite individual students to step into the middle of the circle and write their topic of interest and their name on a sticky note. Have each student announce their topic and then post it on the Agenda.
  • Continue this process until sufficient topics related to the focus question have been identified.
  • Have students work collaboratively to equally divide the topics into Session One or Session Two making sure they distribute the topics equally between the two sessions. Some topics may run in both sessions, if there is sufficient interest in a given topic by all students.
  • When all topics have been posted and organized into sessions, invite students to sign up under a topic in each session based on their interest in knowing more about it and to take responsibility for their learning using the Law of Two Feet.
  • Begin the first Open Space Technology session (Session 1) by having students assemble in small groups based on their topic of interest. Inform students that the individual who posted the topic on the agenda will be the reporter, who takes responsibility for facilitating the small group session(s) with their peers and making sure that a record of the group discussion is recorded and shared on the News Wall.
  • Have students participate in discussions for a pre-determined amount of time (e.g., 10 minutes).
  • Provide groups with chart paper, markers, and time at the end of their discussion to create a summary of the discussion and then post their discussion notes on the News Wall.
  • Repeat the above steps for a second round of small-group discussions (Session 2) using the topics that were selected for Session 2. At the end of Session 2, have groups post their discussion notes on the News Wall for the class to view.


  • Have students reconvene as a whole class and participate in a Dialogue Reflection session to share highlights of their small-group discussions, "aha" moments, and what new learnings or understandings they acquired through the use of the Open Space Technology sessions. During the Dialogue Reflection session, encourage students to actively listen to the insights and/or new learnings their peers share rather than offering an opinion or beginning any additional discussion on what each person says.
  • Have students use the information provided from the News Wall and the final sharing round (Dialogue Reflection) to complete the KWHLQ chart they started at the beginning of the activity.
  • Have students share the questions they still have about trends and issues related to cannabis use and their impact on society in order to determine what students want or need to know more about on these topics.

Ideas For Extension

  • Provide students with the choice of writing a letter to the principal, school board, local MPP, or MP about one or more of the issues and concerns raised during the small-group discussion rounds (Sessions 1 and 2).
  • Have students consider other avenues for advocacy they might take in order to address issues and concerns discussed and how to use those avenues for advocacy about issues and trends related to cannabis.

Notes To Teachers

Providing opportunities for students to explore concepts from multiple perspectives and through a variety of lenses enriches their learning.

  • Explore cross-curricular opportunities such as students reading and researching information related to issues and trends and their impact on society as part of their English, Canadian Law, Business, Entrepreneurship, and Introductory Kinesiology courses.
  • Encourage students to develop critical thinking and inquiry skills for information related to cannabis use including questioning, predicting, analyzing, synthesizing, examining opinions, identifying values and issues, detecting bias, and exploring alternatives in order to help guide their discussions during the Open Space Technology and/or Dialogue Reflections parts of this activity.
  • This activity focuses on cannabis education, so students should be provided with additional opportunities to investigate issues and trends related to other substances and addictions and their impacts on society in order to fully address the learning as articulated in curriculum expectation C3.3. This may be included as part of this activity or in a follow-up activity.