The wave of cannabis legalization sweeping the country has brought with it real benefits—both therapeutic and recreational—to millions of Americans. Though we’re still in the very first stages of this sea change in our culture, there is continued support from a broad swath of Americans.
But like any change in our habits and perceptions, increasing decriminalization has also raised some uncomfortable questions. One major one is: how do we talk to our kids about marijuana use and put it in context as a safe, therapeutic, and recreational product, without suggesting it’s okay for kids to try it?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any straightforward answers. Each family has to come to their own answers and their own policies, based on real soul-searching and a clear-eyed look at their own family values.
We can say this with confidence: When it comes to talking to kids about cannabis, honesty is the best policy. If you can be open and honest about your own relationship with cannabis, you’ll find it a whole lot easier to give children honest and responsible advice about the many risks of trying it too early.
Just as we want trustworthy, dependable information to inform our own decision-making process, the more we can do to provide our children with real knowledge, the better prepared they’ll be to make sound decisions when—not if—the time comes.
A Commitment to Honesty When Talking to Kids About Marijuana
When it comes to kids absorbing their families’ values, the research is comforting: by and large, children do take after their parents in this regard. So being clear and open about your values isn’t just a nice-sounding idea; it has a real-world effect.
So if you use cannabis, it’s best to be clear and transparent about what role it plays in your life, and then be prepared to explain your reasons to your children (though this doesn’t mean using it in front of your kids).
Taking the time to be forthright about your own intentions is an important and worthwhile goal in and of itself. It can also have the benefit of bringing more focus and consciousness to your own cannabis use, even if it’s just recreational.
It’s possible—even likely—that you’ll get initial resistance and confusion reflected back from your children. They may feel entitled to try cannabis themselves or want to experiment with it based on peer pressure. This is a typical and perhaps inevitable reaction to being told they’re “too young.”
The more preparation you’ve done in terms of getting clear and intentional about your own values and your own cannabis use, the better footing you’ll be on to open a real and honest dialogue on the facts of cannabis, and why it’s a drug for adult use only.
Marijuana: A Bad Match for the Adolescent Brain
Cannabis is powerful medicine, and as the pace of research picks up it’s likely we’re going to learn some fascinating things about its potential. But simply put, marijuana isn’t for everyone. It’s effective in treating epilepsy and other childhood conditions, but most clinicians and researchers feel that cannabis poses a very real threat to brain development and should be restricted to adult use only.
Marijuana: Knowing (and Following) the Law
Marijuana is legal in many states, but it has not yet been decriminalized on the federal level. It’s still illegal even for medical use in many states, and even in states with full cannabis legalization, it’s restricted to adult use only. Stay abreast of local laws and statutes, and don’t put yourself—or your children—at risk.
We sincerely hope this article has provided a little food for thought. We’re excited about the untapped potential of cannabis, and we want to do everything we can to make sure you and your family are aware of its potential and its risks. The more honest and upfront you can be about your own choices and intentions, the easier it’s going to be to pass those along to your children.