Pot, weed, Mary Jane…whatever you call it, you can’t hardly turn on the news or visit Facebook without encountering at least one or more headlines about it. It’s big news in Colorado right now, and a lot of the bugs are still being worked out in the new legislation.
If you’re confused by it, imagine how your children might feel. Especially older teens, who’ve grown up learning that pot is bad-on par with other harder street drugs. They’re getting mixed messages, from the “pot culture” that has become highly visible here, and the media reminding us several times a day that it’s legal now.
It’s a fine line to walk. Of course we don’t ever want to picture our kids doing anything harmful or risky. Yet, once they’re 21 and they are able to purchase it legally, can we really stop them? It’s wise to prepare tweens and teens for making good decisions, rather than a black-and-white approach to it.
Of course, every family has their own set of values. Each of us has a different take on what these new laws will mean for our state. Regardless of our own feelings, we do have to recognize that our kids are going to hear about it, see it advertised, and be much more aware of it now, than just a year ago. Here are a few pointers for having that conversation with your own kids:
- Discuss what marijuana is-nicknames, what it looks like, the forms in which it can be purchased/used, i.e., joints, pipes, edibles.
- Remind kids it is still illegal for them, and there are penalties! Encourage them to notify an adult if they know of any friends who are using pot or other drugs/alcohol, or of any adults who may be providing these substances to minors.
- Teach teens to recognize the signs of someone who may be intoxicated (either by pot, alcohol, or other substances), such as loud and/or slurred speech, staggering/clumsiness, glassy eyes, etc. and to never, ever get in a vehicle with an intoxicated person.
- Reiterate to kids of any age, that they should never accept food from strangers. This is especially important considering that many marijuana edibles look like soda pop, candy, and sweets, and they are not required to be sold in child-safe packaging *.
- Above all, be a role model for moderation in your home. Whether it’s alcohol, junk food, Facebook, or (admit it!) binge watching The Walking Dead, showing kids how to self-regulate and make good decisions for their health and safety will go a long way toward them growing into responsible adults who can stay on the right side of the law.
How these new laws will play out remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure, the earlier and more often you engage with kids in conversations on this and other tough topics, the more prepared and confident they will be to “just say no”!
*Besides talking with your kids, get involved. Currently, there is some legislation in place that is designed to prevent children from gaining access to marijuana, but it doesn’t go very far. Colorado House bill 1122 will strengthen medical and recreational marijuana requirements, to help keep the drug out of kids’ hands.
Edibles are a huge concern and instances of kids ingesting them is on the rise dramatically according to Children’s Hospital. Nearly 1,400 pediatric patients under 12 were evaluated at the Colo. emergency room for unintentional ingestion. Kids who ate the edible pot products showed symptoms like extreme sleepiness, respiratory distress and difficulty walking. Learn more about the bill at Children’s Hospital Speak Up For Kids website, and find out how you can take action.
Photo Credit Brett Levin Photography