teen with thought bubble asking mom is she smoked weed

Cannabis Conversations with Kids

When you have children, you know that, at some point, you are going to have some awkward conversations with them. Some of them are easier like what happened to Fluffy the bunny, and some of them are harder like how did you get a baby in your tummy. As parents we spend countless hours preparing the answers to those questions. But what about questions about medical, or even recreational cannabis? In the not-so-distant past, cannabis was covered during the “drug talk.” But what about now? How do you tackle cannabis conversations with kids?

Keep it real.

First and foremost, and like with any other conversation you have with your child, it should be an age-appropriate open and honest dialogue. If your child is six you may want to keep the discussion very simple. You don’t need to go into the legal ramifications of cannabis use in a non-medical state, but you may want to explain that sometimes people use plants to relieve pain as an alternative to something that may make them sick in other ways. If your child is a teen, the conversation will most likely be very different. However, it is still important to maintain open and honest dialogue.

Know what they know.

If you are discussing cannabis with a teenager or pre-teen, it is important to find out what they know. Children are bombarded with messages daily, thousands of them, so learning what they’ve heard about cannabis, especially in school and around friends, gives you a great starting point.

It should be mentioned that although cannabis laws are quickly changing around the country, school district policies tend to not keep up with the changes, and subsequently false information may be given. It’s tough to discuss how cannabis can be used as medicine when your child may have been told that they can die from it, it’s addictive, can lead to other drugs, or that users are losers.

Further, this misinformation is also harmful if your child knows someone who is using medical cannabis and they see the difference it makes. This propaganda, unfortunately, has been taught for a long time in schools around the country (remember the whole D.A.R.E. program in the 80s?). If you find that this is the case in your district, contact your local school board or superintendent to schedule a time to sit down with them and discuss the antiquated stigma associated with cannabis… but that’s a totally different conversation.

School is also a great place for older children to research medical cannabis for reports, essays, presentations, etc. in classes ranging from history (cannabis propaganda and stigma) to science (what is the endocannabinoid system) to health (how cannabis is an exit rather than a gateway drug) to debate (why cannabis should be legal). When they are finished with their project, have them go over it with you. You never know what you too may learn!

A family that learns together…

Younger children may need a little more guidance learning about cannabis… after all, the internet is a really big place full of all sorts of information. You just need to make sure that they are getting the right information. This is a great opportunity to research cannabis together. There are some great videos on YouTube that show the medical benefits of cannabis and showing a child who stops seizing when given cannabis treatment is oftentimes easier than telling them that it works for epilepsy.

Cannabis is medicine.

Explain that cannabis is medicine and should be treated as such. That means that it is off limits to children the same as any other medication. If you are a patient, clearly mark packages and keep them out of reach of children. If you have a teen, explain that it is medicine and is not meant for recreational use, and even in recreational states users must be over 21.

Keep the conversation going.

Talking about cannabis shouldn’t be a “one and done” conversation. It should remain an open dialogue between you and your children. Be there to answer questions and be there to listen.

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