What Your Kids Need to Hear About Marijuana

By Temma Ehrenfeld  @temmaehrenfeld
September 05, 2023
What Your Kids Need to Hear About Marijuana

There are plenty of reasons why you want your child to steer clear of marijuana. Here's our checklist of seven conversations to launch with your child about pot. 

Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America, behind only alcohol and tobacco, and smoking pot for fun is gaining acceptance in many parts of the country. Millions of Americans have voted to change marijuana laws in recent years, with 23 states and the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands legalizing some form of recreational use. Forty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.

The wave of acceptance doesn’t mean that marijuana is safe for your kids. There are plenty of reasons why you want your child to steer clear of pot or go easy — although alcohol or tobacco are as bad or worse. 


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You might start the conversation by being honest, confessing if you smoked pot yourself in the past or do now (they probably know, anyway). Here’s our checklist of seven messages to communicate: 

1. Don’t get into a car with a driver who has imbibed some alcohol and pot, even if he seems okay. Drinking may increase the absorption of THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, and the two combined impair driving even more so.

2. Smoking every day may mean that you’re in some kind of emotional trouble. There are better ways to cope. Some teens use pot medicinally, smoking at the beginning and end of the day to reduce anxiety. Daily users are more likely to move on to other recreational drugs and attempt suicide. If a friend becomes a daily user, you shouldn’t join her. 

3. If there’s psychosis in the family, smoking pot could ruin your life. About 3 percent of heavy users develop schizophrenia. Researchers can’t say the pot causes the illness, but it may push kids who are vulnerable to psychosis over the edge. Getting through high school and college without symptoms could set you up to work and live independently even with schizophrenia — or you might lose those years and have to scramble to catch up. 

4. Using a vape, or e-cigarette, doesn’t protect your lungs. Yes, inhaling vapor is better than inhaling smoke, but inhaling vapor, with or without nicotine, hurts the lining of your lungs

5. Smoking cigarettes isn’t cool; it’s stupid. People who smoke pot weekly tend to smoke cigarettes as well — a disastrous health move. One in every five deaths in the United States is caused by smoking, and nicotine is among the top five of addictive drugs

6. Tell me if you’re having trouble sleeping. The U.S. school schedule is harmful for teens, who need more sleep. Some teens naturally tend to stay up late and have a harder time getting up in the morning. When you miss out on sleep, mild depression gets worse and you may be especially drawn to smoking both cigarettes and pot. You can adjust your sleep cycle so that you fall asleep when you need to. 

7. Using drugs doesn’t make you Kurt Cobain. Most schools have a mini crowd of kids who smoke cigarettes and do other drugs and consider themselves troubled geniuses. They may be bright — but all that talent goes to waste if you disable it. We hear a whole lot about talented people with drug problems, and much less about those who break free of their addictions.

Here’s a final message for you, the parent. Research shows that parents are right only slightly more than half the time when they try to guess whether their children are lying. You’re likely to tilt towards believing lies and being overconfident in your ability to judge.

So, it’s important that your child understand why marijuana is a bad idea — and have options to solve problems like anxiety and lack of sleep — and not just be afraid of getting caught. 


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September 05, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN