This post is sponsored by Single Edition Media on behalf of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. As always, all content and opinions expressed are my own.
As you probably know, it is legal in Colorado for adults 21 and over to purchase, consume, and keep up to six plants of marijuana. But just because retail marijuana is legal, it doesn’t mean that parents can be less diligent about speaking to their children about underage marijuana use. It is also important to keep any marijuana in your home locked in a safe place, out of sight and out of reach of young children and teens.
I have always been open with my son about my expectations. Now that he’s 16, continuing the conversation with him about retail marijuana use is especially important. This has prompted some really great dinner table discussions with him about the risks of underage retail marijuana use and the importance of being responsible. Since marijuana is regulated much like alcohol in Colorado, we have treated them both similarly in our discussions with him.
How and when to talk to teens about marijuana use:
Start early. Waiting until middle or high school to talk to your kids about retail marijuana use may be too late. Teachable moments have been our best conversation starters and they come up often. Take advantage of those moments even if you think your children are too young.
Keep lines of communication open. Teens may decide to experiment with retail marijuana for many reasons, such as dealing with anxiety and depression, avoiding problems at home or at school, or just plain old curiosity. Keep an open line of communication with your kids so they know that they have your support to deal with these issues instead of self-medicating with retail marijuana. Make note of personality changes and talk about them and seek the professional help of a therapist if needed.
Teach them how to say no. Peer pressure is a powerful thing and it can be hard to say no to your friends, so empower your kids with creative ways to say no. “If I get caught I won’t be able to . . .” (play sports, extracurricular activities, community service, etc.) I have told my son that if it ever comes up, to blame me by telling his friends that I will know or I will test him at home if I suspect he is using retail marijuana.
Don’t lecture and be positive. A long lecture could result in your teen tuning you out. Instead, keep conversations about retail marijuana use frequent but brief. Remain informative and supportive instead of suspicious and accusatory.
Friends. Know who your kids’ friends are. Pay attention to how they influence your child.
Driving while under the influence. Let your teens know that they could get pulled over and arrested for DWI/DUI or get in a car accident if they are behind the wheel and under the influence of retail marijuana. Minor in possession (MIP) charges can involve fines, public service hours, misdemeanor/felony charges and even possible loss of a driver’s license
Schoolwork may suffer. If they are in the habit of using retail marijuana then they may perform poorly in school. This will affect their chances of getting into college and ultimately affect their future.
Loss of financial aid. Perkins Loans, Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, PLUS Loans, and Work-Study Programs all could be taken away with a MIP conviction.
Removal from sports and activities. Breaking drug policies could result in being ineligible to participate in sports or activities.
May be fired or turned down for employment. Many companies now perform drug tests prior to employment. Marijuana can be detected from a week to several months after use depending on the frequency of use and type of test performed. If your teen would like to have a job, let them know that they will likely have to pass a drug test.
It can be addictive. The younger a child is when they start using marijuana, the more difficult it will be for them to stop.
We are our children’s biggest influencers. Gaining the tools needed to say no and be responsible begin at home. Be that positive influence in your child or teen’s life.
For more information on talking to your teens about marijuana use, visit Good to Know Colorado.