Ahh, the weed talk. It’s no sex-talk, but it’s certainly a necessary part of parenting, especially in today’s day and age where smoking weed is becoming an increasingly normal activity. More than every before, it’s important to know how to talk to your kids about marijuana.
Although smoking weed isn’t necessary for the survival of mankind (those birds and bees are important, y’all!), it is, in a sense, making its case.
With dozens, if not hundreds of practical medicinal uses ranging from therapeutic to cancer-fighting, cannabis undoubtedly plays a factor in the advancement of society as a whole. And for that, it needs to be embraced.
However, like sex itself, there should be certain guidelines in place and discretionary practices involved.
That’s where the parent comes in.
Here are a few such tips to ensure your child knows how to use cannabis safely when they come of age.
Be Honest With Your Kids
First and foremost, be upfront with your child.
Talk to them about some of your experiences with cannabis, including the age you started (if at all), how you felt after using it and what made you use it in the first place. Politely ask your child to do the same, and explain they won’t be punished for their transparency.
You’re also going to want to explain the many pros and cons of smoking cannabis, and why it’s OK for some people to use it (i.e. medical patients, adults in legal states, etc.) and not OK for others—specifically, underage consumers.
While weed is not a gateway drug, there is still a high percentage of teens who smoke marijuana at a young age and then go on to experiment with harder drugs when they are older. Although it isn’t necessarily the cannabis itself that causes drug use, there is a small correlation between drug abuse in adulthood and smoking weed at a young age, and that statistic should be expressed in your conversation.
It’s Still Considered a Drug
Despite its plethora of splendid uses, cannabis is still considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government.
While we can argue the validity of the classification all we want, it’s ultimately the FDA’s decision to label weed in such a stringent manner. It’s still illegal to smoke weed for recreation in all but eight U.S. states (Alaska, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Washington and Oregon) and the District of Columbia.
Regardless of state laws, much like alcohol, customers must be 21 years or older to purchase and smoke marijuana in the legal states.
As a parent, you should express the varying legality of the plant, while also explicitly stating the implications if caught using the substance illegally.
While you and I may think the plant is harmless enough, it’s still considered a drug on a federal scale and should be treated as such—especially when dealing with adolescents.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
There could be a point in time when your child will do either of the following:
A. Be legally allowed to purchase and use cannabis, or
B. Smoke it regardless.
While most of us likely fall into the latter category, it’s still imperative to set the right example for your child.
Make it a point not smoke often in front of your children if you’re a regular smoker, or at the very least, explain that adult activities aren’t necessarily conducive for children. Give them other examples of adult indulgences (alcohol, rated-R movies, etc.) that they also cannot experience yet. This especially goes for places in which recreational pot is legal, because your child may not understand why they’re doing something wrong if it’s legally available to adults.
If you don’t mind your child smoking weed when they are of a suitable age, at least explain the difference between casual smoking and over-indulging or abusing the plant. We can all admit that there is a threshold to be crossed when it comes to responsible weed-use, and you’re going to want to avoid having your child becoming a couch-locked stoner if you condone cannabis use.
Explain that while cannabis is a relatively harmless way to wind down, it shouldn’t be abused. Drinking a few beers after work might not make one an alcoholic, but drinking from the time one wakes up until bed time is a different story. Some things are OK in moderation, and weed definitely falls under that category. (Please note: Medical usage is an entirely different beast, as many patients need to medicate throughout the day. Explain the difference to your child.)
Moral of the story: Use responsibly.
However, Selling is A Different Story
If you plan on being one of the “cool parents” who’s fine with their kids smoking weed once they’re of age, regardless of legality, you should at least lay the ground rules for something next level, like selling bud or growing their own weed where it’s illegal to do so.
While there are obviously cost-benefits that come with selling your own pot, the legal penalties are much more severe. You should make the point be known that even if you condone a joint or two every so often, becoming a part of the weed black market is a big no-no. Obviously, these are two different extremes and that needs to be communicated.
You Can Still Experience Withdrawals
One of the most underlooked aspects of weed smoking is that users do experience slight withdrawals upon stopping. While it’s not nearly as unbearable as withdrawals from hard drugs or alcohol, it is still prevalent in regular weed-smokers.
Symptoms of withdrawals include irritability, insomnia, headaches and anxiety, and they closely mirror the effects of breaking a tobacco habit. Again, it is important to stress to your child that there are some cons when smoking cannabis, and withdrawals are certainly one of them.
While there are little to no physical risks when it comes to marijuana withdrawal, it should still be noted. Withdrawals can make cannabis habit-forming, and whilst weed is undoubtedly one of the least-addicting substances out there, it is certainly still possible.
In short—withdrawals may be an under-the-radar side effect from ganja, but your child should know about them, nonetheless.
Final Hit: How to Talk to Your Kids about Marijuana
As we noted above, with the spread of legalization and the increasing normalization of weed throughout the U.S., it’s incredibly important to have “the pot talk” with your children. It doesn’t have to be scary or unpleasant—especially if you come prepared with facts and remain transparent about your own experiences with cannabis.
If you don’t know how to talk to your kids about marijuana, just remember that honesty is the most important tool at your disposal. And who knows, soon the tables could be turned. Time flies and before you know it, your grown-up children might be sitting you down to discuss how medicinal cannabis can benefit seniors, how to choose pot stocks or how to enter the legal cannabis industry.