California opened the door 16 years ago with a medical marijuana law. Now Oregon, Alaska, Colorado and Washington allow the drug to be sold outright, without a prescription.
So what do we tell our children about its growing use? Many pot smokers are put in an awkward position with regard to their children. When they were younger, many hid their use from their parents. Now they are hiding it from their kids. Some pot users choose to keep it hidden, while others are being open and honest.
Regardless of which path you take on marijuana use, it’s important to be involved in your kids’ lives and keep the lines of communication open with them.
Parents and other adults are role models to their children. If you are open about your use, be conscious of the values, ethics and behavior you are teaching your children. Tell them the truth. At least for now a federal ban deems marijuana as dangerous a drug as heroin with no legitimate medical use – a view that appears to be out of step with what most Americans believe. Tell them an arrest for smoking pot can land them in jail like so many young minority youth. That’s a recipe for a ruined future.
Just say: “Wait until you grow up.”
Much like the use of cigarettes, alcohol and teenage sex, there are hazards to smoking marijuana. Researchers comparing the brains of “chronic” marijuana users (who smoke at least four times a week) with those of people who never light up found pot smokers had less gray matter in the region of the brain that influences decision making and that they had significantly lower IQs than their non smoking counterparts.
That is not to say that smoking weed makes you stupid, rather that the jury is not in on the long term use of marijuana. Be up front when you talk with your children about marijuana use. Keep it simple. Be cautious in discussing your own history, because it can backfire on you. Don’t try to squeeze this discussion into a tight time slot. Make this a part of the protective web we as parents owe our children.