What do you do, if despite your best efforts, your child decides to experiment with marijuana? Even if you’ve done your best as a parent, talked to and educated your child, set firm boundaries; know that in the end, it is your child’s choice. Of course, the younger that your child is the more control you will have of the situation and can follow through with consequences and loss of privileges. However, as your child grows into adulthood, more and more is out of your hands. Even in this case, be sure to be educated about marijuana when you get ready to have your conversations.
In a previous article, I shared what the research says about marijuana use. It does have side effects like breathing difficulties, driving impairment, and decreasing the process of the creation of new memories. There is not conclusive evidence that marijuana will lead to or cause harder drug use, but many people who have used harder drugs have started with using marijuana. There are more facts about marijuana and its use that can be found in the references listed below.
A great resource to prepare for your conversations can be found by typing Marijuana Talk Kit Partnership for Drug-Free Kids into your search engine. This will take you to the website where you can put in your name and email address and then receive a free downloadable copy of The Marijuana Talk Kit (Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 2018). The kit contains facts, signs, and risks about marijuana along with a guide on what to say in response to what your child says.
I’ve reviewed this document, and I completely recommend it for education sake and to prepare you for having difficult conversations if your child is using marijuana. You will find helpful advice for preparing for conversations including thinking about how you can best address your child so there is an actual discussion instead of just a lecture. If you just talk and don’t get to hear what your child is thinking, you will not know what is going on, and chances are you will not really be listened to. The kit will guide you to write down your goals to your conversation and to be as prepared and relaxed as you can going into it.
There are examples of what you should and shouldn’t say. For example, instead of saying, “Smoking pot is bad for you,” say, “Smoking pot is harmful to your health and brain.” The kit also has examples of what your child might say about marijuana use and ideas on how you can respond. For example, your child might say, “I’m doing it once in a while on weekends, so it’s no big deal.” In response, you could ask, “What would make it feel like a big deal to you?” This information could help you to help your child with “boundaries … around drug use and what would make it a big deal” (Partnership for Drug-Free Kids). Then, if things change for your child, you can bring this up in the future. Your child might also say, “It’s legal in some parts of the country, so it can’t be bad for me.” In response, you could talk about alcohol and smoking cigarettes being legal and their negative effects.
Consider downloading and printing out The Marijuana Talk Kit for better understanding this topic and keep it tucked away should you need it in the future (Partnership for Drug-Free Kids).
If you are in need of help or know someone in need of help for a drug addiction, Dial 211, 24 hours a day for a confidential call or visit www.drugfreeshelbycounty.org to learn more.
This is one article in a series of articles written with the backing of the Shelby County Drug Task Force Education and Prevention Committee with the goal of increasing awareness and developing supports to prevent substance use.
DuPont, R. (2016). Marijuana has proven to be a gateway drug. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/04/26/is-marijuana-a-gateway-drug/marijuana-has-proven-to-be-a-gateway-drug.
Gowin, J. (2014). 7 short-term effects of Marijuana on the brain. Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-illuminated/201407/7-short-term-effects-marijuana-the-brain.
Harvard Health Publishing (2017). Marijuana and heart health: What you need to know. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/marijuana-and-heart-health-what-you-need-to-know
Ingraham, C. (2017). How many Americans regularly use pot? The number is, errr, higher than you think. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article145681414.html.
Mayo Clinic (2017). Marijuana. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-marijuana/art-20364974?pg=1.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (2017). Drug facts: What is Marijuana? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana.
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (2018). Marijuana talk kit. Retrieved from https://drugfree.org/download/marijuana-talk-kit/
Riddell Law (2017). Driving under the influence of Marijuana in Ohio. Retrieved from https://www.riddelllaw.com/driving-influence-marijuana-ohio/.
State of Ohio (2017). Start talking: Building a drug-free future. Retrieved from http://starttalking.ohio.gov/About.
Walton, A. (2014). What 20 years of research has taught us about the chronic use of Marijuana. Forbes, 2014. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/10/07/what-20-years-of-research-has-taught-us-about-the-chronic-effects-of-marijuana/#45a79e0217be.
Walton, A. (2014). Even recreational Marijuana may be linked to brain changes. Forbes, 2014. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2014/04/15/even-recreational-marijuana-may-be-linked-to-brain-changes/#e4c09476b227.
Julie Willoughby, Ph.D., is a parent advocate for Shelby County Drug Task Force Education and Prevention Committee. She also is the director of curriculum and instruction of Urbana City School.