Do you live in a state that has legalized marijuana for all adults or medical marijuana for some? Even if you don’t, changes in laws may be making it difficult for you to raise a marijuana-free kid. The argument that you shouldn’t use marijuana because it’s illegal no longer carries the same weight it did in the past. Despite this, you still have the power to help your teen make healthy choices. Over the last few years we have learned a great deal about how marijuana use can be dangerous for your teen.
Did you know that today’s marijuana is more potent than it was in the 1970s and 1980s? It’s actually ten times more potent than it was a generation ago. Today’s marijuana, even in small amounts, can cause a loss of physical coordination and a deterioration of motor skills. Marijuana can also adversely affect your teen’s memory, his/her ability to learn and concentrate, and his/her neurological and emotional development. Teens who smoke marijuana often are at risk of suffering respiratory problems similar to those of tobacco smokers, including chronic bronchitis, coughing, wheezing, chest sounds, and increased phlegm.
There’s also a new and more destructive type of marijuana available. Synthetic marijuana, also referred to as “Spice” or “K2”, has recently jumped to fourth place among substances abused by 8th and 10th grade students. Its makers tempt kids with flavors like apple, blueberry, and bubblegum, and with brand names such as Scooby Snax. Most users are under the age of 25 and have been found to suffer from overdose symptoms such as hallucinations, extreme paranoia, violence, increased heart rate, inability to feel pain, hypothermia and even seizures.
What if your child asks, “How can smoking pot be dangerous if it’s medicine and given out by a doctor?” or “If weed is such a bad drug, wouldn’t it be illegal?”. Use the facts about the harmfulness of the drug and explain that the FDA has a careful process in place for approving prescription drugs and medicines, and that smoked marijuana has never been through that process. Remind your teen that alcohol is a legal drug for adults, but illegal for those under 21. Why? Because of the damage that alcohol can do to brains that are still developing. Marijuana use can also damage a developing teen brain.
You have the power to shape your child’s perception of marijuana. Start talking with your kids at an early age and take time to explain things to your child in basic terms that are easily understandable. Make your child feel comfortable talking to you about difficult topics such as nicotine, alcohol and other drugs. How often do you discuss the dangers of marijuana with your teen? Let us know in the comments below.