Stand up for your rights

We're here to turn the tide; We've got pot pride!

Home / Cannabis Consumers Campaign


Tips for talking to your children about marijuana.

Wait for the subject to arise, but be prepared when it does. If you think your child is involved with hard drugs, that is a different discussion than the suggestions that follow. If you think your child is already using marijuana, you should bring it up promptly -- not as an attack but as an observation and a topic of mutual concern. Otherwise, bring the subject up whenever you find it appropriate; but since many kids go through DARE or a similar propaganda class at age 11, you should not wait too much longer than that age, and definitely have the conversation by age 16. Be factual and direct, don't provoke resistant behavior, and don't talk about things that are too far above the heads of your child and their age group.

Be up front, but keep things simple. Be cautious in discussing your own history, because it can backfire (example: "how would you know if you've never tried it" vs "well, you did it, so why shouldn't I?"). Say something brief to exemplify responsible use, such as "I waited until I was grown up and in college, and I want you to do the same." Then get back to the point and focus the attention where it is supposed to be. "It's you that I want to talk about because I love and care about you."

* Listen to your child as a starting point.

Begin by asking your child what s/he has heard about marijuana. This will initiate discussion as well as opportunities to establish common ground between you and your child and to learn more about them. Listen to what your child has to say -- our children have useful things to tell us.

* Explain that many activities are inappropriate for children, including smoking cannabis.

Explain to your child that there are many adult activities that are unsuitable for children. Cite examples such as driving a car, entering contracts, getting married, joining the military, etc. Explain that using cannabis is such an activity, and it should be avoided until they are old enough to make adult decisions and take responsibility for their own actions and consequences.

* Emphasize that marijuana is not a toy.

Explain that cannabis, like alcohol or tobacco, is a drug with powerful effects. As such, it is for adults only. It is not a toy. Point out that cannabis smoke irritates the bronchial tubes. Explain that the effects of all drugs can interfere with the physical and hormonal changes that young people experience as they enter adolescence. And if they enjoy it too much, marijuana can become an expensive and time-consuming habit, and early use may lead to later dependency. Emphasize that smoking marijuana can lead to serious problems at school, at home, or with the police. A brief pleasant experniece is not worth the risk of these potential harmful, lifelong consequences.

* Emphasize that cannabis is different than other drugs.

Cannabis is non-toxic and addiction is very, very rare if it occurs at all. There are no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose. Cannabis has few or no negative health effects other than irritation from its smoke. That is not true of most other drugs. Chemical powders are inherently different than natural herbs. That is a clear and simple line to draw. If you think your child is at risk or may already be involved with hard drugs, that is a different discussion altogether. Never tell a child that if they try marijuana their life will be ruined or that it will lead to harder drugs: You may be branding them for life with a self-fulfilling prophecy.

* Be honest, reasonable and strict, but don't overplay your hand.

Be factual when explaining to your child why they should avoid marijuana. Your first priority should be to maintain your child's trust. Demonizing cannabis or sounding hysterical is not likely to convince your child to abstain from using it, but it may well damage your credibility in their eyes. Exaggerating its effects only glamorizes pot in the eyes of a rebellious youth. Explain to your child how much you care about their health and safety, and that you believe that using marijuana risks jeopardizing both. Tell them that smoking cannabis is still against the law, and using it can lead to serious legal trouble. Tell them you think the law is wrong, but that you think there should be an age limit for personal use of cannabis and the business end of it should be taxed and regulated like beer or wine.

Young people will ultimately make their own decisions about whether or not to use cannabis; this is part of becoming an adult. They are subjected to prejudice and misinformation along the way, but they also talk to each other and see what's going on around them with cannabis and other drugs, too. You should attempt to delay their initial use of cannabis as a matter of caution, and to encourage moderation and responsibility should they adopt cannabis as part of their adult lifestyle. You want them to make reasonable choices when the time comes. Therefore, it is critical that parents arm themselves and their children with accurate information, guidance, and open communication about not only drugs, but all of life's difficult choices, to better insure their children's health and safety.

* Get to the bottom line. Marijuana is not for kids.

You don't want them using cannabis, keeping it around, or getting into trouble. Remember: more powerful than any lecture is your active interest, participation, and supervision in your child's life.

* The Age of Consent: When will they be old enough?

The safest thing to tell them is to wait until the legal age of adulthood, 18 or 21 depending on which State you live in. At that age they are legally responsible for their own choices and behavior. Of course, you will still be there for them, but at least you will not be held liable for their behavior. They should know the civil and criminal consequences before they act. They must show appropriate maturity and responsibility before they can reasonably use it, so if they ever find themselves using cannabis as an excuse to act irresponsibly, that means they're not yet ready to consume it.

* What about underage use?

Point out that while cannabis is a physically safer alternative to tobacco or alcohol, the legal penalties against it are extremely severe. Discretion is essential, and if they ever have a problem, they should come to you with it and not be afraid that you will reject them or do them harm. They should stay out of troubke, but you're still there for them if and when they really need you.

But it's much too soon to use cannabis, don't do it, and make it a point that you're not kidding. Don't ride in a car where someone is smoking marijuana. Don't carry, sell or give cannabis away.

* Growing and selling cannabis are not the same as consuming it

The most severe legal penalties are for cultivation, distribution or conspiracy to do so.

It's God's creation and a beautiful plant. For some people it's quite easy to grown and there is a lot of temptation to sell marijuana in order to pay for their own supply. Avoid doing either of these, especially since undercover police are paid to try to persuade otherwise innocent people to break the law so as to entrap them. That's trouble you don't need.

* Additional information.

These web sites offer additional advice on how to speak to your child about cannabis:

These suggestions presented by the Familiy Council on Drug Awareness

PO Box 1716, El Cerrito CA 94530 USA