It might not be the easiest thing to do, and quite uncomfortable. But it’s one of the most important conversations you can ever have with your child, “the drugs discussion”, “the pot talk”.
A lot has changed over the past few decades and the entering of a new millennium. To start the conversation off on the right foot, there are suggestions for parents of the new millennium kids. First, start by debunking the myths surrounding marijuana and hemp, give your kids some history on the plant, and talk to them like young adults, not kids.
Be honest about weed vs. alcohol, tobacco, prescribed pharmaceuticals and the dangers with all of them. Be honest with them and express that you expect the same in return. Kids who want to get “high” aren’t wanting to die and there are hundreds of thousands of teens who die each year as a result of accidental drug overdose according to Teen drug overdose statistics.
What age is appropriate?
Parents often ask, “How old should my kid be before we have a talk about pot?” The short answer: when they ask, it comes up or you feel the need. Have the talk regardless of their age, regardless of whether you have had the talk before, and be sure to refer to it as “cannabis”, the real name of the plant. Make sure they do too. It’s a plant, it’s real, and it has a name that is linked to scientific evidence that it is medicinal, nontoxic and nonlethal. The more you know, the more they know, the more they will listen.
Whether you plan it in advance, or the opportunity just happens, make sure you discuss cannabis with your children privately, respectfully and with their best interest and your sanity in mind. It’s not easy being a parent, but this conversation, and the following 16 tidbits of advice, could save your child’s life. It’s not all the advice you should offer, but it’s a start. Let the rest be individualized to your child and family. Like a medicine to a patient, the right communication can be healing and helpful.
Here are 16 tips to keep in mind when discussing cannabis with your kids:
1. Though it’s called many things, weed, pot, ganja, reefer, chronic, herb and more, the plant’s name is actually cannabis. It’s thousands of years old and was used as a food source, raw material source, and medicine by human beings since at least 5,000 BC.
2. Unlike other drugs – and this is the most important aspect about cannabis – the plant is nonlethal. If you consume cannabis to get “high” (feel elated, euphoric) you cannot fatally overdose if you are consuming just cannabis
3. Almost as important – laws vary greatly by state in regards to the plant. It’s legal to recreationally consume in 8 US states as an adult, but take some across state lines into a prohibition state and you could face trafficking charges and mandatory prison time, for quantities as low as any amount (that roach in the ashtray counts).
4. If you’re under 18, and don’t have a red card as a medical patient – you cannot legally consume cannabis in the US, even though it is the only non-lethal choice available (weed won’t kill you – unlike alcohol, tobacco, and every pharmaceutical on the market).
5. Formerly, cannabis was primarily ingested by smoking it – think Woodstock, hippies, Cheech & Chong. But times have changed…big time, and now there are edibles, concentrates, “dabs”, beverages – be aware of the varying methods of ingestion and how they impact you differently. Smoking a joint is almost immediate, taking an edible will take longer to impact you and certainly linger whereas smoking fades away quicker. As with any recreational substance or activity – moderation and monitoring is key. Research methods of ingestion – they matter.
6. Never try any recreational substance or drug for the first time alone. Always have people who care about you around if you’re considering recreational consumption.
7. Don’t feel pressured by peer pressure. Whether it’s drugs, sex, bullying, food or clothes – whatever it is, if someone is pressuring you into something you don’t feel is right, it isn’t right and they’re not your real peers. Real peers don’t pressure, they support.
8. Don’t be afraid to say, “No thanks.” If someone offers you weed, alcohol or any drug, and you aren’t into it, “no” is absolutely acceptable. Even regular consumers opt out of the pass on occassion. It’s your right to say yes or no, but it’s your responsibility as well.
9. Sometimes, the high isn’t so high – different strains and ratios matter. Sativas and Indicas produce different results for different people. Don’t dive into something you aren’t familiar with. If you’re going to try something new, try a little at a time until you’re sure you like the way it makes you feel and remember – be as honest with your parents as they are with you.
10. Make sure it’s real weed. Anyone that brings “k2” or “synthetic marijuana” isn’t bringing the plant – they’re bringing something comparable to kitchen-cleaner sprayed potpourri, steer clear, stay very far away and educate others to the severe dangers, including death, caused by synthetic marijuana.
11. Never, EVER mix edibles with alcohol. It’s smart not to mix things when trying to have a good time. If you choose to indulge in alcohol, don’t mix beer, with wine or liquor – and if you’re drinking, stay away from the edibles. They don’t mix well. Good times go down the drain and nights are spent in the bathroom.
12. Understand that concentrates and “dabs” are much more potent than smoking cannabis flower or a joint. It’s not for rookies or kids, it’s for patients and adults.
13. Make sure your teens, young adults know it is NOT ok to drive impaired. Ever. Don’t drive high. Don’t drive drunk. Designated drivers save lives, so whether the crew has been drinking, smoking or imbibing – make sure you have a DD to get everyone home safe. It’s nice to alternate and let everyone have a chance to act responsibly, but if a DD isn’t sober, call a parent or licensed friend to take the wheel. It’s not worth the risk. Ever. Never ever.
14. Educate yourself and your friends on the US Government’s patent No. 6630507. It proves cannabis is medicinal, nontoxic and nonlethal. Numerous celebrities are part of the “Talk to the 6630507 Hand” awareness campaign, including Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson and the men from Broken Lizard. Along with dozens of other patents and the years of research that was submitted to grant them, there is ample evidence to debunk myths about the plant and reefer madness propaganda.
15. Tell them to talk to their friends logically if and when the conversation comes up, don’t be afraid to graciously correct someone if they are not educated accurately on cannabis.
16. If law enforcement gets involved, tell your kids to be respectful and say ONLY: “I need to call my parents. I need to have my parents here.”
As with any parental advice, advice on cannabis and the discussion around it aren’t perfect. Not in public, in politics, in medicine or at home, so don’t feel overwhelmed or alone in this – you certainly are you.
There will be more aspects and discussion points as research of cannabis expands and laws change. It also depends, currently, on where you are geographically located – when you think of cannabis in the United States, state are more like countries when it comes to the laws and stringency in sentencing.
In the end, be loving and honest, understand the questions will be hard and you might need to “Google it” but make sure you research with accuracy – not everything you see in print or online is honest, transparent, accurate. So give your children the best gift you can…the information based on facts and educated truth.
This post was originally published on June 12, 2017, it was updated on October 5, 2017.