How to Talk to Your Kids (Realistically) About Cannabis

Slowly but steadily, cannabis is being legalized around the country. Odds are that by the time your little ones are 21, they will have easy access to recreational pot — and plenty of adolescents and teens gain their first weed experience well before they are of legal age. If you want your kids to develop a responsible relationship with cannabis, it is imperative that you talk to them about the drug sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, too many parents make too many mistakes during their drug talks. It is easy to make statements like “You aren’t allowed to consume cannabis,” but such proclamations don’t actually tell your kids anything useful; in fact, rules without reasons might spur your kids’ curiosity and encourage irresponsible cannabis consumption. Instead, you need to come to the conversation with facts about the benefits and downsides of weed, with honesty about your own cannabis experience and with compassion and willingness to listen.

Important Talking Points

Cannabis use can be fun. It is important to tell your kids the truth, that using weed will result in positive effects like relaxation and euphoria. You might compare cannabis to alcohol — both are ways adults can calm down and have fun.

Cannabis use can be dangerous. Using weed as a youth can cause irreparable harm to neurological tissues, so it is important that your kids wait to try cannabis until they are of legal age. Additionally, it is imperative that they consume cannabis responsibly and avoid driving, swimming or other potentially hazardous activities while high.

Cannabis use can be essential. Children and adults both benefit from cannabis when the drug is administered as a medicine. Plenty of people rely on cannabis for health, so mocking someone for cannabis use isn’t appropriate.

Everyone responds to cannabis differently. The exact same dose of cannabis can make one person remarkably high and not affect another person whatsoever. It is best to proceed with caution when using weed to avoid negative experiences, like overdose.

Their friends might start using weed. Many adolescents have their first encounter with cannabis in middle school, and over 75 percent of high schoolers have been offered pot. Preparing your child for the almost inevitability of a cannabis experience can help them make responsible choices when the time comes.

When You Enjoy Weed

You aren’t a bad parent if you enjoy the occasional toke, regardless of whether you use cannabis to manage a medical condition or merely to relax after a long, hard week. Weed isn’t the devil’s lettuce; it is a relatively safe psychoactive substance that adults should be able to use without stigma — especially if you live in a place like Chicago that has legal recreational dispensaries.

Even so, you will need to address the fact that you have cannabis in the house during your conversation with your kids. While parents who don’t use weed might wait until their little ones are tweens to broach the issue of drugs, you might need to start talking about weed when your kids are younger, so they don’t play pretend games about pot or grow up with incorrect assumptions about consumption. You can explain that you use cannabis for your health and wellness, and you should continue to have conversations about your weed use as your children grow, so they don’t feel that use of the drug is something taboo or stigmatized.

Still, you should use cannabis responsibly when you have kids in your home. As much as possible, you should avoid using cannabis when your children are awake and aware to limit their exposure to the drug. It is wise to always have a sober adult on standby, in case of emergencies, and you want to store your stash out of your child’s sight and reach.

Atmosphere Matters

You don’t want your child to feel uncomfortable at any point during your cannabis conversation. You should try to initiate the talk in a place they feel comfortable and at-ease, and you should work to keep your tone light and informative as opposed to harsh or threatening. If necessary, you might ply your child with their favorite snacks to keep them engaged and excited about the discussion, and you should repeatedly let them know that you love and support them no matter what. Maintaining a positive and open relationship with your child should always be a priority, just after keeping your kid safe.

As a parent, you will have plenty of difficult conversations with your kid — and the weed talk is probably going to be one of them. Yet, if you do your research and commit to open and calm conversation, you should see success.