As cannabis becomes legal across the country, so does the normalization of this once prohibited plant. Whether you use cannabis or not, everyone is bound to run into it at one time or another. And this includes children of all ages.
Though most younger children will simply have their curiosities, every parent knows cannabis will be offered to them in their older years. With that, it’s important parent’s address these curiosities as soon as possible.
But how do you go about discussing cannabis with your child? And what do you do if your adolescent has already given it a try?
This article is a guide for discussing cannabis with your children. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.
Initiate the Conversation
Though a child may approach you to ask about cannabis, the older they get, the more they’re going to look into the matter themselves. The truth is, cannabis is becoming normalized within our society. With that, conversations concerning cannabis must also feel normal.
It’s important for you to initiate a conversation about cannabis because it shows you’re open to talk about it. The older (and more curious) a child gets about cannabis, the more they’re going to wonder about your opinion. However, if you’ve never initiated this opinion, there’s reason for your child to believe your entirely against cannabis and, in turn, avoid a conversation.
Finding the right time to talk about cannabis can be tricky. Maybe you’d find it best if your car is driving past a dispensary. Or if you’re watching a television show where a character is smoking weed.
Whenever you feel the time is right, you’ll want to ask questions such as:
- What do you know about marijuana?
- Do you have any questions about marijuana?
- How do you feel about marijuana being legalized?
Such questions are bound to initiate a conversation.
Some suggest you should talk to your child about marijuana around the age of 10. However, children may have questions of their own at an earlier age. Especially, if their parents smoke cannabis.
Developing the Right Environment
As a parent, one of the biggest challenges we face is developing an environment our children feel open to have conversations. In order to create this atmosphere surrounding cannabis discussions, we have a few pieces of advice:
- Actively listen – do not get distracted from what your child has to say.
- Ask questions frequently – try not to be judgmental on the topic even if you don’t support it.
- Avoid anger and hostility you may have towards cannabis – even if you don’t support cannabis, a child is less likely to have a conversation if you perpetuate this attitude.
- Develop conversations with your child – do not lecture them.
- Keep yourself engaged in your child’s life.
- Understand what is required to have an age-appropriate conversation with your child – this varies depending on their age.
Research, Research, Research
We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to know about cannabis before diving into a conversation. Naturally, we all have our predispositions surrounding marijuana. However, though these will have an influence over the conversation, they shouldn’t override the facts.
Some basic points to discuss when it comes to talking to your kids about cannabis are:
- Cannabis has both long-term and short-term effects on the brain. These effects can have consequences on brain’s still in development – particularly, those of adolescents.¹
- Contrary to popular belief, marijuana does have some addictive qualities. Though these aren’t nearly as intense as – let’s say – opioid’s addictive qualities, they are something that shouldn’t be overlooked.²
- Many people are using marijuana for its medical benefits. Though more research is required to truly understand these benefits, we know for sure that marijuana has a way of naturally interacting with the body. It’s important to discuss how this is vital for those who need medical assistance, but isn’t for those simply looking to have a good time.
What To Do If Your Child Is Using Cannabis?
If you catch your child or they admit to using marijuana, you may have just found your opportunity to have a conversation about cannabis.
Before you dive deep into this conversation, it’s important to understand why they’re using. Many adolescents are simply curious as many of their peers are partaking in cannabis use. Therefore, it’s only natural your child wanted to see what marijuana was all about.
However, there are sometimes cases where marijuana use appears due to deeper issues. For example, some teens use cannabis as a means of self-medicating from mental illness.³ If this is the case, you may want to consult a doctor about the issue at hand.
A Parent’s Expectations
Every parent feels differently about their child using marijuana. Some are okay with it while others are complete against it. For this reason, we don’t want to procure any ideas as to how you should treat such a situation.
We at Let Us Be Blunt respect that everyone has a different opinion and will settle issues as such on their own terms.
With that said, we do have some advice we’d like to share with you:
- If you’re against marijuana, it’s important not to impose strict punishments if you catch your child using. Strict punishments may damage relations you have with your child and, in turn, cause them to continue using.
- If you’re okay with marijuana use, it’s important to discuss how cannabis can have negative long-term affects on a developing brain. Though occasional marijuana use in adolescents hasn’t been found to create long-term complications, chronic use of marijuana has.
- Going off the previous point, occasional use of marijuana can still lead to short-term dangers. It’s important your child is aware they shouldn’t drive while under the influence or participate in risky activity.
- Remember the laws. Even if you’re okay with your adolescent using marijuana, it remains illegal for anyone under 21 to use in recreational legalized states. It’s important to have discussions about these laws with your child.⁴
If you’re concerned about your child’s marijuana use, we suggest you consult a doctor or mental health professional to figure out a solution.
Marijuana use is on the rise, dominantly due to legalization. With that, so is use among adolescents.
It is ultimately up to the parent to decide how to initiate and follow through with a conversation surrounding marijuana. The above information is merely an outline to help you identify how to make this initiation and where to take the conversation.
As discussed, not every parent feels the same way about marijuana and, therefore, conversations are bound to differ. Still, it’s important to keep the law in mind when having these discussions with your children.
Still have questions concerning how to talk to your children about cannabis?
We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have further personal or professional advice, we’d also love to hear from you.
¹ HHS Public Access: Effects of Cannabis on the Adolescent Brain
² NIDA: Is marijuana addictive?
⁴ California Cannabis Portal: Laws & Regulations