JUST SAY "WAIT UNTIL YOU GROW UP."
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
* 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
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
* Be honest, reasonable and strict, but don't overplay
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
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
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
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
PO Box 1716, El Cerrito CA 94530 USA http://www.fcda.org