How to talk to your kids about the legalization of Marijuana in Washington
The legalization of marijuana in Washington has thrown many parents for a loop. In theory, having a joint after a hard day (and in front of your kids) should be no different than having a drink when you get home. In fact, there is a lot of research that tells us that marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol. It’s possible for parents to drink and smoke responsibly in front of their children and still raise teens to make good decisions.
In practice, some find it more difficult to talk about the legalization of marijuana in Washington with their kids than it is to talk about alcohol. It may be the fact that until very recently, marijuana was an illegal drug, while alcohol has been legal and socially acceptable for many years.
The conversation, however, is just as important. This is a good time for parents to sit down with their kids and explain that just because something is legal, it is not necessarily good for you. Remind your child that although the law was changed, it is still illegal for people to smoke pot before the age of 21.
Another good point to focus on when you talk to your kids about the legalization of marijuana in Washington is that certain substances can have a far more negative effect on young bodies. Just like teens shouldn’t drink, smoke cigarettes, or consume a lot of caffeine, marijuana use at a young age can be dangerous too. Kids smoking pot is no more appropriate than kids operating chain saws or driving before they are of age.
How to talk to your kids about the legalization of Marijuana in Washington: Talking Points
The good news is that research shows if you start the conversation early, kids are far less likely to use any kind of drugs during their teen years. Open and honest communication is key.
It is also important to go over expectations in your family in regards to the legalization of marijuana in Washington. Ask your child what they know about marijuana. You can dispel any misconceptions they may have at this point. For example, some teens believe that marijuana cures cancer. This is not true.
Let your child know that most Washington high school students do not use marijuana, and that the legalization of marijuana in Washington is not an excuse to begin using marijuana.
Engage in a family discussion about all drugs, including marijuana. Set family rules about drinking and drug use. Make sure to lay out the consequences of drug and/or alcohol use, and enforce them consistently.
Finally, remember that you are an important role model for your child. Make the decision to either not smoke pot in front of your children or to at least use it responsibly. Keep your marijuana in a secure place, just like you would with prescription drugs and alcohol. Needless to say, parents should never drive while under the influence of marijuana or any other substance.