Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado for people 21 and older. In many communities, there are numerous dispensaries (places to buy marijuana) — with inviting storefronts and clever names. This can make buying marijuana as easy, and seemingly as safe, as going to the coffee shop.
When marijuana is readily available, it can make the decision of whether or not to use it confusing, especially to children and teens. That’s why it’s important to talk to your kids about marijuana. Give them the facts about marijuana, make sure they understand the risks and keep the lines of communication open.
How to start the conversation
It’s never easy to bring up difficult topics, but you — and, believe it or not, even your kids — will be glad you did. You should start talking to your children about marijuana around age 10. But if a younger child asks about the drug, give them simple, straightforward and age-appropriate answers.
No matter what age you start the conversation, be sure to keep it going throughout their tween, teen and young adult years.
Remember, these conversations don’t need to be a formal, sit-down event. In fact, it’s best to look for everyday opportunities where the topic comes up more naturally — such as when you’re driving or walking past a local dispensary.
Your kids are smart. They’ll probably know if you aren’t being honest with them when you share information about marijuana or your feelings about the drug.
This includes sharing your own experience with marijuana. You do not need to go into detail about past or present use, but if your child asks, be honest. Take the opportunity to explain that you use it legally (being over 21), never to excess and never in a way that compromises anyone’s safety (such as when driving).
No matter how young or old your kids are, the most important part of your conversation about marijuana is listening. Let them ask any questions they have about the drug. Ask them what they already know, what they’ve seen or what they’ve heard from their friends.
If your kids bring the topic up, never be too busy to stop and talk to them about it.
Share the facts
If your kids are relying on their friends, TV or social media for information about marijuana, chances are they have lots of misinformation.
You want to present the facts about marijuana objectively. Approach the topic openly, sharing information about:
- What marijuana is and how it’s used
- Why people use marijuana
- Side effects of marijuana
- Why it’s dangerous for young people
- Risks of getting addicted
Try to keep anger and judgment out of the conversation. Kids will shut down if they think they’re already in trouble for their feelings about marijuana.
If your child is experimenting with marijuana — or feeling pressure from friends to try it — talk to them about what’s going on. Ask them why they’re using it and calmly explain your concerns.
Make sure your child knows they can come to you with questions and that your first priority is keeping them safe.