Teens and Pot: What You Need to be Talking About


We recently polled moms to find out if they had talked with their kids about marijuana. While many said they had, a large number hadn’t or if they had, they felt it was a brief, ineffective conversation. Having the “sex” talk with tweens and teens can be hard, but having the “pot” talk can be just as challenging. Many of the moms we spoke with were sidelined by some of the questions and responses from their kids when they brought up marijuana. Below are three of the most common questions moms were asked by their kids and suggestions from Good To Know Colorado for how you can answer them.

1. Marijuana is all-natural so it’s ok, right?

Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe, especially for teens. Tobacco is “natural” but we all know it’s not safe. Did you know that marijuana smoke has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke? Smoking marijuana can make it harder to breathe and affect your coordination, lung capacity, and athletic performance. Using marijuana can hurt your brain development too. Studies have shown that teens who use marijuana regularly are more likely to have learning and memory issues. And, marijuana can be habit-forming. It’s harder to stop using marijuana if you start at a young age. So, natural doesn’t equal safe.

2. Which is worse, alcohol or marijuana?

It’s not really about which is worse. Both are illegal for anyone under the age of 21. Both can be harmful when abused, and both have negative health effects. There are consequences to using both as well. If you’re caught with recreational marijuana, you could get charged with a MIP (minor in possession) and face fines, public service hours,misdemeanor/felony charges and even possible loss of your driver’s license. You could also lose your job, get kicked off sports teams, be suspended from school and even lose financial aid for college. It’s not worth it.

3. Why is it okay for you to use marijuana?

I’m an adult. The law says that adults over the age of 21 can use recreational marijuana. The reason for this is that teen brains are not developed enough to handle marijuana. Your brain is still developing until you’re 25-years- old. Using marijuana when you’re a teen has negative health and legal consequences, which could stand in the way of you achieving your dreams.

Many of the moms we spoke with said they felt completely useless once they got into the conversation about marijuana. It’s amazing how teens and tweens can reduce us to mush during these conversations. That’s why Good To Know Colorado also has developed the following tips that can help make the conversation more effective:

Know the Facts: Get informed about the laws, health effects, and negative consequences for youth who use recreational marijuana so you can answer your kids’ questions. Good To Know has lots of information here:http://www.goodtoknowcolorado.com/talk

Choose the Right Time to Chat: I am the queen of starting the conversation at the wrong time. Watch and listen for cues. If you hear a commercial on TV about marijuana, that can serve as a good intro. If your child brings up the topic or if you encounter someone using in public, that can be a doorway as well. Make sure you have enough time to really talk and answer their questions.

Relate to What They Can Lose: If your tween or teen participates in extracurricular activities, they can lose this privilege if they’re caught with marijuana. If your child has a goal of college scholarships or military service, these can be lost as well. Tap into what is at risk and tangible to your child.

State Your Expectations: While you want to maintain an open door for conversation, as the parent you need to make your expectations clear. “I expect you to not use marijuana until you are of legal age,” is a very clear statement.You should also make the negative consequences clear and follow through on these consequences if your child is caught with marijuana.

Keep Talking: While you don’t want to beat a dead horse, you need to repeat this conversation. Experts recommend starting the conversation and continuing it until age 21.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Good To Know campaign is an excellent resource for parents, coaches and teachers to learn about how to talk with kids about not using recreational marijuana. There is so much great information for you to tap into at http://www.goodtoknowcolorado.com/talk. It’s also great for when you get stumped, and trust me you WILL get stumped by some of the questions and arguments you get.

Remember, DON’T STOP having the conversation!


Sponsored by: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Good To Know Colorado Campaign.