If you’re a parent, the marijuana discussion is going to come up with your kids – if it hasn’t already. Legalization laws have made cannabis a commonly discussed and referred to topic in pop culture and in the media. I’ve been writing about marijuana issues for 7 and a half years and the proliferation of references and information in all forms of media when it comes to marijuana in that short time has been astonishing to watch.
So it’s a good bet that your kids are going to ask about marijuana, and if they don’t, you should talk to them about it. Some parents looking for advice will likely come across a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics that provides a series of talking points for use when discussing cannabis with teens. While the report is specifically geared toward what doctors should say to parents and teens on the subject, the points hold true for what information the AAP hopes parents pass on to children as well.
Overall, the tone of the report is not something that would have existed 20 years ago. Instead of browbeating children with the “marijuana is bad, stay away from it” approach, the report recommends a lot of communication between doctors, parents and teens. But in the age of the Internet, this is where doctors and parents have to tread carefully. While the AAP recommends citing doom and gloom studies about the effects of marijuana on young brains, if you rely on those studies and teens find information that refute the first studies – as is the case many times – then your credibility as a source of information takes a hit. Even worse, your loss of credibility affects other things you’ve told them as well when it comes to things like harder drugs, alcohol, tobacco and sex.
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to talking with teens. You can point out that studies say different things, but that marijuana is an adult product that is best enjoyed as an adult. You can also point out possible legal repercussions, which can be found easily on the Internet.
The report also recommends not partaking of marijuana around your teens. For legal reasons this may be a very good idea but parents who use medical cannabis may use their medicine around their children for several reasons; to show them there is nothing wrong with using cannabis to treat their ailments and to teach them about all the wonderful things the cannabis plant can do.
In the end, while we don’t want our kids using marijuana, if they are going to experiment with something – and they likely will – what’s safer than cannabis? Would you rather them drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or have unprotected sex?
And if you’re truly interested in keeping marijuana away from teens, then legalization is the answer. Drug dealers don’t care what age you are as long as you have cash and aren’t a cop. Legal dispensaries and retail shops that depend on licenses from the government don’t have that luxury.