Cannabis is in the news again. On January 4th, the Vermont House of Representatives voted 81 to 63 in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. The details have yet to finalized as the bill still needs to pass through the Vermont Senate.
This transition might send the signal to teens that marijuana use is okay. Now is the time to talk to your kids about marijuana.
Dr. Lisa Demour, a child development specialist writes, “Our most successful conversations might be the ones where join our teenagers in questioning authority– that is, discussing what legalization does, and doesn’t mean. Indeed, it’s easy to be on the right side of the law and the wrong side of science.”
While Vermont may legalize marijuana, it’s important to look at existing science: regular marijuana usage during adolescence hinders brain development, specifically the parts responsible for learning, reasoning, and paying attention.
How do you start the conversation though.
Once you’ve started the conversation they may have some counter arguments:
You can’t die from a weed overdose like you can from alcohol.
It’s true. But that doesn’t mean that marijuana is safe. Regular use is associated with higher rates of depression & anxiety, lower academic performance, and can trigger schizophrenia in some. A recent Australian study even compared heavy long-term use to causing to having a mild traumatic brain injury.
Weed isn’t addictive like tobacco.
Yes and no. Marijuana isn’t as physically addictive as say alcohol or tobacco, but users will still have cravings. Marijuana is also physiologically addictive. Many regular users report higher anxiety, mood swings, depression, trouble sleeping, and higher stress after quitting.
The public is in favor of legalization, so it must not be a big deal.
This is a bit trickier, because while a growing majority of Americans do support legalization that doesn’t make the drug safer– and certainly not for teenagers. Tell them that whatever happens with Vermont legalization efforts, they only have the one brain, and that you want them to make the best decisions for it.
You can find the entirety of Dr. Lisa’s piece here.
Facts about marijuana and brain chemistry here.
Additional resources about how to start a dialog with your child here
More details on Vermont Legalization efforts here.