How to Talk to Teens About Legal Marijuana
We Can’t Address What We Don’t See
As parents, we often have a tendency to ignore problems until they are right on top of us. That isn’t negligence, we simply don’t think of our teenagers as doing something wrong because we trust them. When that trust is broken it makes it all the more devastating and we begin to see our failings, where we went wrong.
Substance abuse – which can be categorized as any use of mind-altering substance when it comes to teens – is one area where that is especially true. We don’t think to talk to our kids about drinking unless they are caught doing it. And often, drug use is not planned in teens. Gatherings and parties introduce other drugs that are often “legally” prescribed…and no one spoke up against them. What’s often unknown is this: DRUGS USED OUTSIDE RX GUIDELINES ARE ILLEGAL.
But where does marijuana come into the mix?
Marijuana is NOT HARMLESS
Reefer Madness shows that hysteria involving cannabis has been a problem in the past. But many people who smoke weed want to promote marijuana or THC as harmless. In fact, when you talk about marijuana being anything but perfectly safe, many people look at you like the “doctor” in that infamous scare film.
Yet, it has been shown time and again that marijuana use can have a serious impact on developing brains. During childhood, the brain is massive, with connections and sections that are rarely – if ever – used. It is what gives children their sense of imagination. As we age, the brain shrinks as it gets rid of unnecessary functions. This lends more power to more efficient sectors responsible for things like logical thinking and problem solving.
The teen years are the most critical time for this. Marijuana use during the process of brain development can:
- disrupt development
- cause malfunctions in critical thinking
- impair memory
- negatively affect emotional regulation
Legalization and the Changing Landscape Of Marijuana Use
Legalization has given the impression that marijuana use is perfectly safe. Which it may be in many cases, in the same way that there are plenty of people who can have a glass of wine with dinner and never suffer the consequences faced by an alcoholic. But because of brain development and how easily it can be disrupted it is never safe for a teen to use cannabis.
Even in states where marijuana is legal, it is never legal for someone underage to consume it without medical authorization. If teens are caught with cannabis, they can be arrested and end up with a record. If they fail a drug test it could impact school, potential jobs or even sports or extracurricular teams and groups.
Talking To Your Teen
Access to marijuana is easier than ever. The strains on the market are far beyond what they have been in the past. It is crucial that you speak to your teen to show them what can honestly happen if they use it before their brains are finished developing.
Take the time to speak to your teenager about marijuana. Here are some basic guidelines.
- Be calm.
- Be honest.
- Don’t try to scare them. Just be open about the genuine risks.
- And most of all, encourage them to wait.