Parenting Today: How To Talk To Your Kids About Marijuana

By Ulises Román Rodríguez via El Planteo.

"Smells like Otto's jacket," said Lisa Simpson at Hullabalooza’s festival. Although Lisa is a gifted girl and her brother Bart is a little demon, it is clear that Marge and Homer never talked to their children about marijuana.

Keep in mind that those '90s were not like the early 2000s. Back then, words like "marijuana" and "cannabis" only appeared in the "crime" section of newspapers.

Currently, Argentina’s Supreme Court of Justice is debating the legalization of home cultivation, Mexico’s lawmakers are discussing recreational use, and in Spain, a law that will regulate consumption is moving forward.

Despite becoming less of a taboo, as is in the case of sex, many parents still do not know how to talk to their children about pot.

In any case, it is known that what is not learned at home is learned outside. So, wouldn't it be better to talk about pot with our children at home? in a safe environment, where information is not distorted by friends or unreliable websites?

At El Planteo, we believe that this is an important issue that should be approached carefully. That is why we consulted with Virginia Labiano, a specialist in drug policies, a doctoral fellow at CONICET with a Ph.D. in Political Science, and author of the research “Drug Policies In The Southern Cone: Consumption and Possession Of Cannabis For Personal Use In Argentina, Chile And Uruguay (1983-2015)”.

We seek to contribute to the work of parents who feel that the time to talk about weed with their children has come.

—What would be an appropriate age (if there is one) to talk about marijuana with your children?

—You have to adjust the contents to the different ages and always share the truth.

—How should we address the issue?

—Do not say everything at once, and go little by little, depending on the age and maturity of children. However, when they are teenagers, the subject must be discussed. And let them know that, from now on, there will be two issues that will arise in life: sex and drugs. Make sure they understand that both are natural practices, that they must be handled freely and that freedom entails responsibility, that there must be consensus in both, and choices imply risks and, possibly, damage. So they have to be aware of that.

Dynamic Relationship

In an interview with the newspaper Página/12, the head of the National Secretariat for Comprehensive Drug Policies, Gabriela Torres, said that the last official survey on the issue was carried out in 2015 by the National Ministry of Health. According to the sample, "80 percent of teenagers said that they were not listened at home" when talking about the use of some type of drug.

—What should you do when faced with the question ‘why do you use it for?’ or ‘what is it for?’

—There is no correct answer for that because each person knows why they use it and what it is for. I believe that drugs sustain our lives since we wake up and sip coffee or yerba mate or relax with a joint, a glass of wine, or enjoy the weekend with a pill or whatever substance to sustain life. It is important to tell them that one has a relationship with substances and that this relationship changes over time, just as we do.

—Should we avoid consuming cannabis in front of our children?

—I don't think so, but neither should they naturalize it to the point of believing there are no risks or harm associated with it.

Family First

In 2019, Canada decriminalized the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. To help parents and teachers talk to children about pot, the Canadian government launched a guide titled Cannabis Talk Kit - Know How To Talk With Your Teen.

—If they decide to try cannabis, is it better for them to do it with their parents or with their friends?

—It would be appropriate to do it with parents in a safe environment such as the family house, knowing the quality of what they are consuming. Sometimes, teenagers rather try cannabis with their friends. If so, try to get them to consume cannabis that is safe and traceable, opt for quality over quantity, with marijuana and all other substances. Make sure they understand that the longer they delay consumption, the better for their health. Their nervous system is still developing. Also, they should not mix marijuana with alcohol, tobacco, or other substances, that bad trips eventually end and, in case of an emergency, they should always call medical services, never the police.

—Is it dangerous that our children know where we keep pot?

You have to be careful, especially when they are kids. There is a learning curve in learning how to roll a joint with dried cannabis flowers. However, if we are talking about infused chocolates, gummies, etc., we must be careful. We need to rethink practices because we have all seen our parents smoke tobacco, we have stolen tobacco, alcohol, to try with friends. That is why it is always important to talk about it.

—What should we tell them if they are accused by other children of having stoner parents?

—I think we have to talk to the parents of the child because, if they point their finder, it is because they heard something about it at home. Of course, beforehand, you have to talk to your children and tell them that the adults will discuss the issue and provide a solution.
Cover photo by cottonbro via Pexels, edited by Natalia Kesselman for El Planteo. 

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