Have you had The Talk with your kids yet? No, not the sex talk – the weed talk. You may have thought this particular topic could wait until high school, possibly even college, but talking to your kids about weed should happen by age six.
That may sound pretty young. After all, most six-year-olds are still playing with HotWheels and stuffed animals. But, this is actually the age when kids start to think positively about marijuana, thanks in big part to the media depicting it as fun, social, and risk-free. You also have more influence over your child’s perspective and decisions about cannabis before they try it.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Take away the “marijuana is fun” ideology. Not with scary or strict “not until you’re 21” edict, but by providing your child with factual and applicable information. You want your child to know that, while it’s okay for adults of legal age to enjoy cannabis, and that it’s a large part of the adult world, it is not safe for children. You want them to know that the way cannabis is portrayed on social media and in movies and television is not always accurate; to know smoking weed isn’t safe for them because their brains and bodies are still developing, and to understand that there can be consequences to consuming too much cannabis.
Here are some other tips to help when talking to your kids about weed as a cannabis user.
Tips on Talking to Your Kids About Weed
1. Don’t avoid the conversation for years
Like any other heavy subject – sex, drugs, and talking about weed – the earlier you start, the better. This is especially important if you consume your cannabis in front of them, just as other parents would have a glass of wine or drink a beer while the kids play.
When your kids see you doing something new, they will be curious. They will likely ask what it is that you’re holding, they may want some. The conversation will vary depending on the age of your child, but regardless, don’t avoid talking to your kid about weed.
You don’t hide your can of beer, so don’t do that with your weed either.
2. Educate yourself about cannabis
The older your children get, the more they will be exposed to. They will start to see and hear more about cannabis, and (hopefully) will come to you with questions they have. Providing your children with the information they’re after means first educating yourself about cannabis, especially as a cannabis user yourself.
Read dispensary blogs, scour over strain and product reviews, and keep up with the legalization process.
Cannabis is everywhere and in many different forms, from hemp CBD to marijuana edibles and beverages. A blunt doesn’t affect you the same way as an edible or a dab. Ideally, you should know the different forms of consumption and their different effects to accurately talk to your kids about weed.
3. Don’t unload a ton of information all at once
When talking to your kids about weed as a cannabis user, try taking the conversation one step at a time.
There is a big shift going on with weed moving from dark alleys to your local shop, and it’s okay to approach the subject delicately. There is no need to dump a ton of information on your kids, nor is it helpful.
Approach the conversation the way you would one about alcohol. If your children are old enough to recognize weed when they see it, then they will likely be shocked when they find out their parents “do drugs.”
This is where it will be important for you to have a firm understanding on cannabis, cannabis safety, the benefits of cannabis use, the drawbacks, why cannabis is not the same as other substances, and the legalization. Curious children may want to know why it’s becoming legal now, whereas it was strictly prohibited before.
Be prepared to answer their questions, taking things one topic at a time.
4. Don’t forget weed is still legally a drug
Despite its myriad benefits, cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the Federal government.
Sure, we can debate the validity of that classification until the sun goes down, but it’s ultimately up to the FDA on how they want to label weed. It’s illegal to smoke weed recreationally in most states, despite how popular it is.
Regardless of the laws in each state, individuals must be 21 years or older to purchase and consume cannabis in the legalized states.
As someone talking to your kids about weed as a cannabis user, give an overview of the varying legality of cannabis, while also making it explicitly clear that there are consequences if caught illegally using the substance.
While you may think weed is basically harmless, it is still considered a drug on a Federal level and should be treated as such — especially when talking about it with children or teens.
5. Don’t project a stoner lifestyle
One of the most important things to remember is to not glamorize things when talking to your kids about weed as a cannabis user.
Sure, cannabis is far safer than, say, alcohol. But, from a recreational standpoint, many of the poignant lessons we give about alcohol are applicable, particularly that cannabis is a substance only for adults, and is best enjoyed in moderation.
Even though cannabis has a multitude of benefits and can be used as medicine, there is a point of “too much.” If an individual is smoking all day, every day, and it is taking over their life, they are at the point of doing too much. If it is a preferable activity to everything else in their daily life, then they are doing too much.
Let your children know that while something can be enjoyable, such as cannabis, it should not be the focus of their life.
Too much of anything can be detrimental. Even cannabis.
6. Consume, but do so responsibly
One of the first things you need to do if you are going to consume as a parent is figure out, when your children are not present, how much you can safely consume without being impaired.
Make sure to keep your stash, especially if it includes edibles or other cannabis-infused foods /beverages, locked away out of the reach of your children. Read this post on how to store your stash in the home.
Don’t make your stash a mystery. Your child should know it’s your cannabis, and that the edibles are not for child consumption. Your child should know to tell you immediately if they ever find the locked box to be open or if he sees the household pet around it.
Avoid hotboxing your home with your children around. This should be an obvious one, but it does need to be said. If you consume, do so with adequate ventilation and not when your children are close enough to inhale your second-hand smoke.
7. Maintain open communication with your child
When talking to your kids about weed, remember that children who have strong relationships with their parents are less likely to consume while underage. It’s easy to let your relationship with your child slip away as they grow into older teenagers, but staying close and maintaining open communication with them will protect them from substance abuse issues.
Things to Keep in Mind When Talking to Your Kids About Weed
When we were all growing up, there was a heavy stigma surrounding cannabis. It was a drug, plain and simple. It’s a big paradigm shift to think about cannabis as something you can openly consume (in some states), and can consume around your children.
Now, stigmas don’t just go away overnight. But, for all of the negative connotations, it’s carried over the past century, cannabis has become a societal norm. So much so, that’s become part of daily life for many people – parents included. For parents who consume, the issue is less about changing how people view it than changing how we talk about it.
One of the ways to start this change and facilitate the dialogue is to be open with your kids about your cannabis consumption. Talking to your kids about weed as a cannabis user is a big responsibility and one that must be carried out carefully.
And it starts with education. These tips should help you when it comes time to have The Talk.
Disclaimer: Marijuana has intoxicating effects and may be habit-forming. Smoking is hazardous to your health. There may be health risks associated with consumption of Marijuana. Marijuana, in any form, should not be used by individuals that are pregnant or breastfeeding. Marijuana is intended for use only by adults 21 and older. Keep out of reach of children. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug. This product may be unlawful outside of Washington State.