From Reefer Madness to the War on Drugs, parents in the United States have a long and unflattering track record of disastrous conversations with their kids about cannabis. Whether you remember this ad from the ‘80s or not, as awful as it is, it underscores the importance of talking to kids about cannabis – especially if you use it yourself.
In stark contrast to the ‘80s, here in Massachusetts, it’s perfectly legal for parents (and anyone else age 21 and over for that matter) to purchase, possess and use cannabis. That said, the availability of legal cannabis from dispensaries like Revolutionary Clinics and recreational shops throughout the state hasn’t eliminated the black market. Despite every parent’s best efforts to discourage them, just about any kid under the age of 21 can still find someone to sell them marijuana. This creates some confusing situations for young minds to process, especially since the recreational availability of cannabis is still fairly new and kids can convince themselves that they’re not doing anything wrong.
Now more than ever, parents need to talk to their kids about the pros, cons, facts and misconceptions about cannabis. Like the old school PSA scare tactics of the last 35 years, there’s still a lot of inaccurate information out there. To get advice from our friends at Green Nurse Group, check our events schedule to see when our next How to Talk to Kids and Parents About Cannabis talk is happening.
Whether you use cannabis or not, here are a few of the most important things to discuss with your kid as early as second grade when they are likely to attend their first D.A.R.E presentation where scare tactics are the norm and inaccurate information persists even to this day.
Marijuana is slang for cannabis
Cannabis is a plant with many uses including food, fiber, fuel and medicine. Because it’s been illegal to study cannabis for the past 80 years, the scientific community knows very little about cannabis. This has created a lot of confusion and an overwhelming focus on the fact that cannabis gets you high.
How cannabis gets you high
Cannabis is the only plant on our planet that contains THC, the chemical compound that creates the high that has been misunderstood and vilified. In addition to THC, cannabis contains over 400 compounds including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and phytonutrients that have a variety of different health benefits. Some of these can be found in everyday foods like black pepper and mangos.
Different amounts of cannabis and different strains of cannabis can cause different reactions in our bodies.
Just as there are hundreds of vegetables there are hundreds types of cannabis plants that are called strains.
They all have different health benefits like the other vegetables do in our garden. These benefits include the relief from the symptoms of debilitating conditions like chronic pain, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression to name just a few.
Unlike licensed dispensaries and shops that help adults select the right strain for their needs, black market dealers will sell any strain they can get their hands on. Worse, these dealers are unlikely to understand or unable to explain how their strains will affect the people who use them.
Cannabis laws are different in each state and the punishments for breaking them can ruin your life.
At the risk of sounding like an ominous PSA from the ‘80s, jails all over Massachusetts are packed with men and women who got caught using or possessing marijuana illegally. A cannabis arrest can prevent your child from getting into college, getting a good job or buying a house. These things probably won’t matter to them now, so it’s up to you to teach them how important it is to stay out of trouble with the law.
We do not know how cannabis affects brain development, but we do know the brain doesn’t stop developing until around age 25.
This is why (unless prescribed and supervised by a doctor for the treatment of a specific condition) children should not use cannabis, just as they shouldn’t use alcohol or un-prescribed medications.
Smoking isn’t the only way to use cannabis
Smoking is definitely the most common way to use cannabis but it can also be eaten, juiced and vaporized. It can even be used as a topical cream or salve. Kids need to know this so they don’t get tricked into eating, drinking or vaping something they don’t realize contains cannabis.
No one has ever died or overdosed from cannabis.
However, using too much cannabis can make you feel sick and anxious to the point where you may feel like you need a trip to the emergency room. That’s why it’s so important for kids to avoid using cannabis until their old enough to follow the guidance and advice of trained professionals.
We hope these talking points help you have an honest, comfortable conversation with your child. Your goal should be to educate your child, not scare, threaten or demand. The more your child understands the pros, cons and legal risks of cannabis, the more likely he or she will be to make the right choices which is all any parent can ask. If you have any questions or comments about this post, please fill out the form on our website and we’ll get right back to you!