British Columbia

Immigrant support group calls for more information surrounding marijuana legislation

The CEO of a B.C. immigrant social services organization says there's not enough drug education available to new Asian immigrants to Canada.

'Certainly there is a bit of a taboo and a stigma attached to it'

Drug use is considered shameful by many new Canadians from Asia making it an uncomfortable topic for families to discuss, says Queenie Choo, CEO of the immigrant support society SUCCESS. (CBC)

As Canada gets ready to legalize marijuana, the head of a B.C. immigrant social services organization says she's keeping a close eye on new legislation from all levels of government.

Queenie Choo, CEO of United Chinese Community Enrichment Services Society (SUCCESS), says her organization is reviewing its employee policies around recreational marijuana use in the workplace ahead of the legalization. 

SUCCESS is also working to give information regarding marijuana legalization to parents in B.C.'s diverse communities as it becomes available from the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

While speaking on CBC's On the Coast, Choo said there is a lack of drug education available to newly arrived Asian families in Canada.

"Certainly there is a bit of a taboo and a stigma attached to it," said Choo.

Opium Wars

Drug use is shameful for many Chinese families and it may evoke memories of the Opium Wars period in Chinese history.

Choo said it's important not to generalize when speaking about Asian immigrants as a whole — there are many Asian families open to the idea of marijuana — however stigma can make it hard for parents to speak with their children about drug use.

"Many Asian families do think taking drugs might not be a good thing, especially youth," said Choo.

The organization is also looking at what new laws will  mean to its own staff.

 "We've started the process of trying to understand the legislation. How does it impact the workplace? How can staff be supported with the information?" said Choo.

She said it's important that new immigrant workers in Canada understand how their performance could be adversely affected if they use recreational marijuana during work hours.

"One of the key components is the education ... What are the impacts? What should the community do in order to make sure it's a win-win situation for all?"

With files from On the Coast

Join CBC Vancouver at 419: A public forum on cannabis and youth Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Vancouver Technical High School. Go to to register for free tickets. If you can't be in the live audience you can listen on the radio or watch the Facebook Live broadcast on CBC Vancouver's Facebook page.