OTTAWA -- The Canadian Paediatric Society has issued guidelines to help doctors screen teenage patients for problematic use of recreational cannabis.

The group says it's critical to raise the issue regularly, pointing to a recent survey that found 44 per cent of youth aged 16 to 19 reported using cannabis within the previous year.

It encourages doctors to suggest meeting patients alone for at least part of their appointments starting at age 12, in case they are reluctant to disclose risky behaviour in front of their parents.

Health-care professionals should also ask their young patient's permission to discuss cannabis, guarantee confidentiality, answer questions honestly and assess how cannabis may be affecting family life, school, work and relationships.

Doctors are encouraged to remain non-judgmental and work with teens to set realistic goals, and follow up on their progress. They should also factor in parental concerns when they arise.

The society says one in six adolescents who experiments with cannabis goes on to misuse it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2020.