One of the major justifications – still – for outlawing pot is that cannabis could more easily fall into the hands of “kids” were it legalized. What people really mean is that they are fearful their teens will suddenly start toking up.

While this is a legitimate concern, a lot of the fear is misplaced. In every legalizing U.S. state for example, teen use has either been steady or dropped. In Colorado, the most closely watched state, teen use has dropped precipitously.

Teens are not stupid. However, four decades of anti-drug propaganda have made their mark. Kids are more prone to engage in certain behaviours because of the illicit thrill that comes with getting away with something. Legalizing marijuana as a drug and legitimate adult recreational substance removes part of that thrill. As marijuana is further normalised as a medical substance, the allure of the illicit disappears.

That said, it is a good idea to talk to your children about drugs, including cannabis. How to do that, as well as “where” and “when” is another story. Ultimately, nobody can tell you how to best raise your children. But be aware that children receive information about drugs from many sources, some of which are highly unreliable. It is not just “kids at school” anymore, but a global glut of influences appearing via the internet.

The more your kids know from you, the better prepared they are to make the right choices. Or at least choices you can better understand and support while they are still under your roof.

Niños fumando cannabis

BE HONEST

The best choice you can make as an educator, parent, or both, is honesty. Again, kids are not dumb. They will also respect you more if they realise that you aren’t lying to them. Whether you do not personally like drugs, or if you toke up every day, there are a few basic approaches to work with when talking to your kids about drugs. Below, we break down one such example.

START WITH SCIENCE

This is actually pretty cool stuff. Who knows, you might even encourage your kid to become a research scientist along the way. Or pursue another STEM career. Why? Understanding the science behind cannabis is absolutely absorbing. Discovering the existence of endocannabinoids and understanding how they work in the human body have already revolutionised the medical cannabis industry.

This is a great way to approach the entire issue very clinically. It is also a nice way to explain to kids what cannabinoids can do to the brain in a non-judgemental way. Plus, on the passive-aggressive side, scientists have to have good grades. Toking up before the chemistry test? Probably not a good idea.

TRY TO USE REAL WORLD EXAMPLES

Parents in the United States are finding that working in the legal weed industry can be especially hazardous. This comes not only in the form of the additional risk they face as parents in the industry. People have lost their children just because they showed up for work in this vertical.

Industry work can also contribute to judgment and stigma from other parents. Perhaps your child will not be invited back to the home of a friend. Sound nuts? It happens. However, the more prepared your children are for this kind of thing, the less upsetting. If you explain your motivation for working in the industry, this is something that is easier for other adults to understand. If not, it’s an honest start.

Father taking care cannabis

On the other side of the equation? How do you explain to kids not to use cannabis if you work in the industry? Easy. The same way you do if you are the employee of a liquor company.

There are lots of products children should not use and things they shouldn’t do. Kids under 16 in the United States cannot drive. Children under a certain height cannot go on particular rides at amusement parks. There are many things that are reserved for the world of “grownups.” Cannabis is one of them. If your kids respect you, they will follow your guidance on this issue.

It is not as if “drugs” aren’t inherently scary to most maturing kids. If you cultivate a reasonable environment on the topic, chances are this will be rewarded. You want your kids to come to you first with their questions.

WHAT IF I USE CANNABIS?

In this situation, talking to children can be a bit harder, but it doesn’t have to be. This is especially true if you use the drug for medical purposes.

If you smoke recreationally, try to keep this away from your children until they are old enough to understand what you are doing. This is for everyone’s safety. There are cases where parents have been reported to authorities as unfit parents by children who did not understand implications of what they said at school. You also do not want your THC brownies going astray. These are just precautions any protective parent makes.

Regardless, as a parent, there are many things that are not appropriate for children. Those rules are easier for kids to understand if you are neither hypocritical nor condescending.

Getting a driver license is far more important to the average teen than toking up with the ‘rents. Use incentives you know will work.

HOW DO I INTRODUCE THE TOPIC?

There are many ways to introduce the issue. Usually this does not even have to be planned. Kids often raise it themselves. However, if they do not, be sure to mention it by the time your child is between the ages of 10 and 14. Do it slowly and in a nonthreatening way, and your child will trust your opinion on this...usually.

They will also feel that they can come back to you with questions. This is exactly what you want to foster.

Father talk to kid

WHAT IF NOTHING WORKS?

If you suspect your kid is using drugs of any kind, including cannabis, this is obviously a concern. Try not to accuse children of this lightly. Teenagers are by definition, moody. They go through all sorts of ups and downs. Remember?

If you see real evidence that you kid is in trouble, drug-related or not, obviously your role as a parent is to get involved. If your kid is using drugs, there is always a reason. This is not the kind of thing kids do unprompted. It is usually a sign of something else. Perhaps it is a cry for help.

Try to address the situation as honestly as you can. As the parent, it is easy to feel guilty or take blame. Resist that. You are only worthy of blame if you do nothing.

Even here, however, parental interdiction can have its limits. Drug addiction is a tough issue. In the United States in particular, this can break families. Usually, this is in some way related to the extremely high cost of health care. However, addiction in any country is painful to those closest to the situation. If you are a concerned parent, do what you think is best. That is all that can be asked of you.

There comes a point where your children are not kids anymore.

 

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