What to Do If Your Find Your Teenager Using Cannabis
I’ll never forget the day that my dog went into my sister’s purse, grabbed our stash of cannabis and presented it to my Dad. We got a big lecture about how cannabis will destroy our brains and make us lazy losers. My Dad threw the bag away and stomped off with a huff. He always made sure he let us know how disappointed he was in our cannabis use. That was almost two decades ago, where cannabis was at a very different place than it is now.
2018 will be a huge year for a shift in cannabis. California’s recreational cannabis market is lighting itself a-blaze this week, and recreational markets will be cropping up across new states and the whole country of Canada. Times have changed, and 2018 will bring a different way that parents and their kids interact about cannabis.
While states that have legalized cannabis report a decline in cannabis use across teens, teens are curious and peer pressure is real. Whether it’s through the legal or grey market, they can get their hands on cannabis if they want it.
What do you do if you find your teenager using cannabis? Here are a few tips from the Oov Lifestyle team to keep in mind if you ever come to this smoky crossroads with your teenager:
- Educate, educate, educate
While cannabis has a certain place within the adolescent medical cannabis space that needs to be protected and advocated for, it could potentially have concerning effects on the developing brain if abused.
Just like alcohol, legal cannabis includes significant compliance measures designed to control minors’ access, and for good reason. There is a growing discourse in both the cannabis and scientific communities about the effects of cannabis (especially THC) on the under-18 brain.
The spectrum of opinions includes cannabis being benign and posing no threat to believing that it significantly contributes to difficulty with cognition, memory and emotional regulation. Take time to understand the effects of cannabis on the brain and body with your teen, and cover the importance of understanding strains, THC to CBD ratio, dosage and use vs. abuse.
- Be real about your own use
There comes a time in the parenting journey where you own up to the things that make you human to your kids. If you’re a cannabis user, don’t try to hide it from your child if you’re having “the talk” and they ask you if you use.
Be real about your journey with cannabis, but most of all, share what you’ve learned about safe use and disclose the things you have learned about cannabis, including use vs. abuse.
Are you taking sips of wine in your bathroom or coat closet? Likely not. So think of cannabis in the same way, demonstrate a healthy and responsible relationship with it. Something that adults use medicinally or as part of their health and wellness regimen.
- Set Boundaries
Generally, taking the “thou shalt not” approach to anything with teenagers can set parents up for backfire. I can’t even tell you how many pipes of mine my mom threw out only for me to replace them a day later. Most teens want to do exactly what their parents tell them not to. If you’ve found that your teen is using cannabis, and is developing an affinity for it, set real boundaries rather than taking a punishment approach.
If you’ve taken significant time to talk about cannabis and go over the important cannabis education that any cannabis user should undertake, there comes a time you have to trust your teenager to make proper and informed decisions.
Keep the dialogue open about cannabis use, and have regular check-ins. Let them know that they don’t have to hide, but that they do not have a carte blanche to smoke cannabis wherever or whenever it’s convenient for them. Remind them that cannabis is for adults and keep dialogue open and positive.
Don’t turn a common interest in cannabis into Family Smoke Sessions – keep your family life and your personal cannabis use separate, to be revisited when your kids are long into adulthood.
Use Your Judgement
There is no “one size fits all” to discussing cannabis with your teenager, but if you have found that they are indulging, try to avoid the punishment and prohibition approach and take the opportunity to educate about cannabis and reflect on its place in the life of the members of your family.
Most importantly, demonstrate the way. If you’ve been able to be a thoughtful, active, and productive member of society while being a cannabis user, chances are, your teenager will turn out the same way in adulthood.