With legalization of marijuana happening across the globe, here are 10 important things to teach your kids about marijuana. Currently, 33 states (plus DC) in the US have legalized marijuana for medicinal use while another 11 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Even in states where marijuana has not been legalized conversations are ongoing. Chances are high that your child will get to hear of marijuana sooner rather than later. And unlike in the olden days where it would suffice to say “keep off it is legal,” things are a bit grey in today’s world. That is why you need to have the conversation. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Give them a little bit of history about marijuana
Marijuana has a rich history. In case you didn’t know it’s high time you get acquainted with it. For example, Queen Victoria's physician, Sir Reynolds, used marijuana to treat the queen's menstrual cramps. In the 1840s a doctor by the name of Jacques-Joseph Moreau found that marijuana was useful in “suppressing headaches, improving appetite, and improving sleep.” While in 2016, a stash of weed (2,500 years old) was found in an ancient tomb in China. Archaeologists suspected that the weed was used for both spiritual and recreational purposes, given the high THC content. The history of marijuana is a good way to show you kids that weed has been an integral part of the livelihoods of different communities from many years back.
2. The legality of marijuana in certain states
Let your kids know if marijuana has been legalized in your state. If not, let them know about the conversation and what is likely to come of it. This includes explaining to them what the conversation is all about; why some people are for and against it.
3. Recreational marijuana is out of bounds for them
The age limit for recreational marijuana varies between 19 to 21 years. This means that recreational marijuana is completely out of bounds for children. Let your children know as much.
4. CBD won’t get them high
Your kids are likely to come across some form of CBD either at home or on the internet. They may also see CBD treats being offered to their friends, if you have not offered it to them yourself. It is important to let them understand that as much as it is closely related to marijuana, it does not have psychoactive properties. Let your children be comfortable with taking CBD for therapeutic relief, especially when it is from a reputable source and contains zero THC.
5. Avoid using the word “drug” when referring to marijuana
The word drug has a negative connotation in many circles. Using the word drug when referring to marijuana may cause confusion in your child’s mind. This is especially true when you want to introduce the medical aspect of marijuana. Using the word plant could have better results.
6. THC gummies will get them high
Even with all the goodness of marijuana, let them know that marijuana products with high THC amounts will alter their mental status. Marijuana gummies in particular may appeal to children because of their candy-like appearance. And children are likely to come across some, since they are now legal. So before they get tempted to steal some and taste, let them know that may get them “high” and impair their short-term memory.
7. Children can use medicinal marijuana safely when prescribed by a qualified physician
Medical marijuana has been approved for the treatment of several childhood diseases such as severe childhood seizures. Let your child know that it is okay to use medical marijuana if it has been prescribed by a qualified medical doctor. Let them also know that medical marijuana is similar to other forms of treatment that may be prescribed by a doctor.
8. Children medicating on medical marijuana should not be stigmatized
Your kids may come across children using marijuana as a form of treatment. Educate them on the medical benefits of marijuana and let them know that it is similar to other kinds of medicine that they take at home. Let them know how to offer support to children who are on any form of treatment for a severe condition, including marijuana.
9. Tell them about marijuana edibles that might be offered to them
Your older children may be offered marijuana edibles in school or at parties. Unfortunately, the effects of marijuana edibles take a long time to set in. This means that your child may not realize that they are consuming marijuana until hours later. You can explain to your kids how marijuana is likely to taste and smell like. Let them not accept foods that are likely to be infused with marijuana such as the infamous marijuana cookies.
10. The risks associated with excessive consumption of marijuana
This article would not be complete without mentioning the potential risks of marijuana use by children. While this is controversial, some studies have shown that long-term marijuana use may impair the memory of children whose brains are still developing. Marijuana also impairs judgment and increases reaction time. This increases one's chances of an accident.
When to talk to kids about marijuana
So do you just wake up and summon your child to an impromptu discussion on weed? Well, that depends on your parenting style, but it's probably one of the best approaches. If you wait for your child to start using it before you start the conversation chances are high that they will feel judged when you bring it up. Therefore, it's good to start the conversation on a random Saturday afternoon when you are just chilling out.
Avoid wearing a stern or scared face when having this conversation. You want to do everything possible not to trigger curiosity and not to instill fear in the same vein. Try to make the conversation as natural and as practical as possible.
Before wrapping this up, here are a few tips on how to talk to children about marijuana.
Children under 10 years
This is the best time to start the conversation on marijuana. Tailor your message to suit the child’s reasoning at that age. Avoid giving too much information, unless it has been asked. Simple sentences such as “ marijuana is a plant that is used as medicine and adults may also use it to relax” will suffice. You may also add, it is okay to say no if someone offers it to you.
This age group is more inquisitive and you will need to be equipped with more detailed answers. Dwell on open ended questions such as “tell me what you know or want to know about marijuana.” This will help you assess their knowledge levels and gauge their attitude towards marijuana. Peer pressure is also checking in at this age, you might ask questions regarding their friends’ perception of marijuana.
This is a logical group but may be the hardest to talk to. It's highly likely that they have already heard about marijuana and worst of all they know your likely stand on the issue. Based on what they perceive your stand to be they may be tempted to conceal their true feelings. In some cases, they may have already experimented with marijuana. Your focus as a parent is to provide a safe environment for your child to freely let you know what form of support they need. You also want to fill in any knowledge gaps that may exist.
That brings us to the end of 10 things to teach your kids about marijuana, success as you embark on it!
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