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How Can Kids Say 'No' to Marijuana Use When Others Say 'Yes'?

Managing the medical and recreational pot debate among youth.

Although controversial, the topic of medical marijuana is one that I believe is important to discuss. 

As a teen and family therapist running a teen substance abuse program this topic is fairly familiar for me. 

Through available research and client report, it has become clear to me that the use of marijuana is not only becoming increasingly common but has become quite a debated issue.

Due to the debate, what I have found tricky to manage is the perspective that many teens maintain on the risks and benefits of marijuana.

I once had a client bring me a stack of research articles nearly an inch thick supporting his argument of why he should be allowed to continue his use as he described that there were no risks but only benefits to his use.

I, too, could provide a teen like this with counter research an inch thick of the harm and risks associated with marijuana use, however, ultimately this example portrays the struggle and bind that today’s parents, communities and helping professionals face regarding marijuana and our youth. 

From young ages, teens become exposed to individuals using medical and recreational marijuana, they become familiar with the availability of medical marijuana cards and dispensaries, while gaining clarity on the legal jargon of marijuana use. 

From this exposure, today’s teens end up battling an internal debate about the topic, unfortunately a debate that some lose due to their confusion, lack of clear understanding and ultimate decision to use.  

On some level, I try to empathize with today’s youth on this issue. Back in the day, marijuana was illegal and that was that. If teens smoked, they knew it was illegal. Today, however, youth face a different decision, a decision that can be blurry as result of the debate around medical marijuana.

Considering that this is an ongoing and growing concern, I am curious to know “How do you address and support your teen to make healthy decisions regarding marijuana use?” Or, if you are not yet a parent of a teen, “How will you offer prevention to your child regarding marijuana use?”

Dyan Chan April 25, 2012 at 08:01 PM
I think the way to deal with this is the same way we deal with use of other recreational and therapeutic drugs, such as alcohol, tobacco and painkillers. We explain to our children that there are responsible ways for adults to enjoy, say, wine or cigars, and we model that behavior. (For example, drinking in moderation, never driving under the influence, being careful not to inflict second-hand smoke on others.) We also need to explain what medicine is, what it's for, and how to use it safely (e.g., we don't take medicine for fun, but it can really help if we have a headache, we take only the prescribed amount, etc.)
Jacob132 April 26, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Can you provide us with the inch of information? We'd appreciate it.
Carrie Vawter-Yousfi April 26, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Ditto what Dyan said. We need to educate our kids and not let society do it for us. We must explain the difference between what's legal and illegal and from what's prescription to recreational.
Andrew April 26, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Oh sure, don't let the kids smoke pot, the only thing that isn't toxic, doesn't cause cancer, doesn't kill brain cells ect. Just let them drink and smoke cigarettes until their livers rot away and their lungs turn to raisins.
PreventionFirst April 26, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Here's a start, Jacob123 -- Site endorsed by the pro-legalization group in WA: http://adai.washington.edu/marijuana/factsheets/factsheets.htm From NIDA: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/infofacts/marijuana From American Academy of Pediatrics: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/113/6/e632.full
tyler moore April 26, 2012 at 05:42 PM
i would prefer every teen in the world smoked weed than 100 teens drinking alcohol. alcohol kills
Jacob132 April 26, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I really appreciate the effort placed to give us more information. I do however, feel uncomfortable with the above links, there is lots of mis-information which is really unfortunate. When someone makes decisions based on mis-information, they have made an incorrect decision. For Example: There is scientific proof that Marijuana does not directly cause cancer, The violent outbursts are false, I have consumed with thousands and thousands of people, never once led to violence. There are other issues that are directly related to cannabis's legality status that are negative, but legalizing would remove those issues instantly. Well, give us americans 1 season to catch up with our inventory. I am going to find some actual negative things about cannabis to level the playing field, stay tuned. thanks again
Shayne Liddell May 19, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Andrew, marijuana causes cancer. Don't be a dumbass when you don't even know what you're talking about.
Jacob132 May 19, 2012 at 12:41 AM
it doesn't actually cause cancer. Sorry.
GAWD June 17, 2012 at 05:56 AM
So, just because it makes you happy, hungry and high it's better to smoke it than to drink a beer or smoke a cigarette that everyone, by now, knows can kill you. Huh. Pothead rationalization! They all want to be flying hippos. Really, that's the most dangerous thing about legalizing pot. The vast majority will be under the impression that it's safest to consume, so the percentage of those that have pot as their drug of choice will increase tenfold. But can you imagine it? No war or hate--just a lot of stoned people in the street, eating raw cookie batter and collecting welfare. Oh, and potheads, don't say you can't get addicted--you're fighting so hard for it to be legalized. Well, guess what, it is--most cancer patients who need relief from the nausea can now legally obtain pot here in California. It's the potheads who're abusing this drug that make me want to keep it illegal, because you DON'T stay in your own home when you get high--you all smoke it in public places. And guess what? You know how cigarettes smell like shit? You know how that drunkard walking down the street and grabbing for you freaks you out? Yeah, you're the worst of both worlds. Gee, the future looks so bright. But it's okay--I'll figure out how to profit from your stupidity somehow. I think I'll open a cookie dough factory. I'll just have to make sure that they don't force me to hire potheads. I'd go bankrupt if that were to happen.
Anyone November 29, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Jacob132 https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.csam-asam.org%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fimpact_of_marijuana_on_children_and_adolescents.pdf Data collected and reviewed not by moralistic, angry parents, not by rationalizing potheads, but by the medical professionals who are asked to come in and help when addiction has set in. Those medical professionals need to educate themselves so they can help humans fight addiction. They also share the info so intelligent humans have access to science unrelated to moral codes, unrelated to the money to be made by selling marijuana, unrelated to self-serving rationalization.

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