Weed is Legal! Now What?
With marijuana recently becoming legal in several states across the country, the landscape has changed. What hasn’t changed though is the fact that all substances, including marijuana, or “weed”, are harmful for developing teen brains. So Weed is Legal, now what? A human brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-20s, and during the adolescent years, teens are more susceptible to its negative developmental effects.
Weed is Legal, but the side effects haven’t changed. Marijuana use affects the parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory retention, and awareness, or attention span. Science has also proven that teenage marijuana use can permanently lower their IQ. While it seems harmless on the surface because of its long-time glorification, weed can affect teenager’s ability to build the foundation that the rest of their lives will be built upon. Because of these changes around the perception of marijuana, it is important that the conversation that you’re having with your teen changes as well.
So exactly what should this new conversation sound like? It should involve active listening and being aware of certain slang that should set off red flags. It will also have to include empathy, understanding and avoiding the expression of your disapproval or disappointment with negative verbiage or name calling. Back in the day, we were taught through our parent’s actions that we should get upset, yell, and demand that the behavior stop. But that rarely works. Instead, most kids just decide to be even more careful about hiding whatever it is that they’re doing. Be encouraging, positive and supporting.
“Marijuana’s a Plant. How Bad Could It Be?”
I hear what you’re saying, and I understand your point. And I’m not trying to say that your life is necessarily going to be ruined or spin out of control because you smoked marijuana. I just want you to see the other side. When a person is high, their judgement is not what it would normally be and that can get you into trouble. Because while smoking weed won’t necessarily ruin your life, one bad decision can.
“I Only Do It on The Weekends.”
Well, I’m glad that this isn’t something that you’re doing all the time. The biggest concern that I have is that using any drug at your age is harmful to your brain’s development. Did you know that your brain is still developing and that it won’t stop developing until you reach your mid 20’s? I know you may not think it’s a big deal, but what are some things that we can do, either together or with your friends, to keep you from smoking marijuana?
“I Know You Smoked Weed in College.”
This one can go one of two ways. If you’ve never smoked weed, then say just that. If you did smoke when you were younger, then the fact that you’ve had first hand experiences can work in your favor. The key thing to remember about the direction of the discussion, is that this isn’t about you and whether or not you smoked weed in college. It’s solely about educating them about the choices that they’re going to have to make as they get older. Discuss your past experiences to help them understand the risks, and whatever you do, don’t lie. Now, don’t glorify certain experiences either, but be honest or you could end up losing credibility with your kids.
Check out our education page for more information on how to talk to your kids about staying away from drugs and alcohol.