This week the first recreational marijuana stores opened in Washington State. Initiative 502 was passed in 2012 to legalize marijuana in the state without a physician’s recommendation, but it was just yesterday that recreational stores could legally sell it. One store opened in Seattle, the others were in Bellingham, Prosser, and Spokane. It remains illegal for anyone under age 21 to use or possess marijuana, but legalizing recreational use does send a message to those who aren’t yet adults: it’s legal now, so it must be ok, right? We’ve had posts on marijuana legalization and teen marijuana use in the past, but here we wanted to highlight the importance of parents in preventing underage use.What can parents do?
- Start talking early. Many teens who start using will begin by age 14, so don’t wait until middle school to discuss marijuana or other drugs (including alcohol).
- Give your teen ways to say no. Most will likely be offered marijuana by someone they know and it may be as subtle as ‘here try this.’ Practice different scenarios with your teen that may come up and ways they can politely but firmly decline.
- Set consistent and clear guidelines and rules. This applies to multiple aspects of the household, including completing chores, homework, curfews, and even sitting at the dinner table without looking at their cell phone (I threw this one in!). Be clear that using substances will result in a consequence. Discuss with your teen what that consequence will be and allow them to have some input. If they break the rule, the important job of you as their parent is to follow through with the consequence.
- Keep track of your teen and their friends. Pay attention to their behavior, know who they hang out with. I don’t recommend invading privacy by reading their diary or looking at their text messages daily, but do remain involved in their activities and be ‘friends’ with them on social media.
- Network with other parents for support.
- Monitor your own behavior. Ever notice how our kids seem to have the same habits and mannerisms as us? You’re a role model, so if you want your teen to avoid using marijuana, avoid using around them.
What do I do if I find out my teen is using marijuana?
- Remain calm and don’t overract. Seek out help if their use is impacting their daily life (such as grades, hobbies, or relationships with friends and family).