Hey, parents. Do you know when is a good time to talk with your kids about marijuana?

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Hey, parents. Do you know when is a good time to talk with your kids about marijuana?

Now. And tomorrow. And many other days after.

Research shows that parents are the #1 reason young people decide not to use drugs and alcohol. So, talk to your kids about marijuana and other drugs early and often.

No matter how much you may already shelter or support your kids, the conversations and situations happening in Vermont around marijuana are challenging for kids to understand and can open the door to marijuana use or a reduction in their perception of harm of the drug.

The science continues to emerge, but we can say with certainty now that marijuana use is significantly linked with:

  • addiction
  • heart and lung complications
  • impaired brain development
  • increased risk for mental illness
  • car crashes
  • IQ loss and poor academic outcomes
  • poor quality of life outcomes
  • poor job performance

Research shows that people who use marijuana regularly are more likely to have:

  • poorer working memory, cognitive flexibility, decreased concentration, attention span, problem solving, motor control, coordination, judgement, reaction time, and tracking ability
  • reduced odds of high school completion and degree attainment
  • increased use of other illicit drugs and instances of suicide attempts
  • decreased IQ of eight points from adolescence to adulthood among heavy users of marijuana who started in adolescence (This drop is comparable to the decrease experienced by children who have high exposure to lead)
  • The younger an adolescent begins using drugs, including marijuana, the more likely it is that drug dependence or addiction will develop in adulthood.

Don’t worry! You don’t have to get all those points across in one talk. Many small talks are better anyway — keep it low key. Look for those windows of opportunity to start the conversation, like when you see an article in the news or when something relevant comes up on TV!

Struggling with what to say? Try asking your child these questions to get the conversation started:

  • “What’s the hardest thing you deal with when it comes to just being yourself around your friends?”
  • “If one of your friends wanted to try marijuana, how would you handle that?”
  • “If someone asks you if you want to try marijuana at a party or a friend’s house, what will you say? … How about we practice a few things you can say so you’ll feel prepared!”
  • “If you ever have questions about marijuana or other drugs, you can count on me to listen and help you find the answer.”
  • “There has been a lot of misinformation lately going around about marijuana. What have you heard from others about marijuana? I’ve spent some time getting more informed lately so I have more accurate information. Can I tell you what I know?”

Vermont Resources for More Information About Marijuana:

Vermont Department of Health:

The Vermont Department of Health “Marijuana Use in Vermont” web page includes prevalence and treatment data, fact sheets, and additional resources from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Vermont Department of Health recently released a grim report on marijuana, Health Impact Assessment: Marijuana Regulation in Vermont, outlining health and safety issues related to the drug. The report’s top-line findings are that marijuana use negatively impacts most health and safety harms (p.3).

ParentUP is a Vermont campaign to help educate parents about issues related to drugs and alcohol in Vermont and how to talk to their teens.

Just a Few of the National Resources for More Information:

The Marijuana Report
Parent Further
Speak Now (Colorado Office of Human Health)
Talk. They Hear You
Marijuana Science Forum