This post: Legal or Not, Why I Don’t Want My Kids Smoking Pot (Post updated: March 2023)
“Mom, you’re overreacting. It’s just not that big of a deal.”
“It’s just a plant… it’s totally natural.”
“All the kids in high school are doing it and they’re totally fine.”
Sound familiar? These are the words kids use to defend their views and opinions about weed and try to sway us into believing that it’s totally fine, harmless, that “everyone” is doing it, and that we shouldn’t worry because it’s actually good for you. To this generation of kids, it’s simply no big deal.
And who can blame them for their cavalier attitude?
With twenty-three states (along with Washington D.C. and Guam) currently having laws in place that legalize weed in some form, more than half the American public supporting legalizing weed and 33 million people in the U.S. classifying themselves as regular users, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a softening of opinions about weed use in general or that we’re seeing teens’ perceptions of the risks associated with weed also steadily decline. Add in the fact that 54% of regular users are parents and it’s easy to see why our kids are being sucked into the mindset that getting stoned on a Friday night after a long week is literally no big deal.
But, they’re wrong. It IS a big deal…
Although weed is perfectly legal, acceptable, and safe for adults under certain circumstances, the vast majority of health experts are in agreement – it’s NOT safe for kids.
A Tough Argument to Fight with Our Kids
Even with new mounting evidence suggesting the dangers associated with weed and its impact on young developing minds and bodies, 60% of high school seniors still feel that marijuana is completely safe making it challenging for us as parents to discourage our kids from jumping on the widely accepted “weed bandwagon.”
As parents, how are we supposed to talk with our kids rationally and intelligently about weed when there’s so much conflicting information floating around and the idea of getting stoned is viewed by our kids as a totally harmless and fun pastime? It’s not as if we can put our kids in a cage to protect them or monitor them or their whereabouts 24 hours a day. For many parents of teenagers, it’s a battle they’re finding hard to fight.
With my own kids, I’ve found that the long, emotional lectures with me pleading with them to listen to me simply don’t work. I find the best way to get through to my kids is to dial my emotions down a notch and stick to the facts.
8 Important Facts I Want My Kids to Know About Weed
FACT 1: Be Under No Illusion, Today’s Weed Packs a Powerful Punch
If you think today’s weed is the same weed of generations past, think again. In fact, the potency of weed has been on a steep rise over the past few decades. In the 1990s the average THC content (the main psychoactive compound in weed, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which gives you the intoxicating feeling of being high), was about 3.7 percent. In 2014, it climbed to 6.1 percent. Today, THC levels hover around 20 percent with some reported cases as high as 37 percent THC.
And, rising in popularity with a lot of kids today are edibles which can contain several times the THC content as smoking weed, and also smoking or ingesting THC-rich hash oil extracted from the cannabis plant (called dabbing) which has the ability to deliver THC levels as high as 50 percent and even some as high as 80 percent.
FACT 2: Marijuana Growers Cross-Breed Strains to Make a More Potent Joint
The THC concentration in weed is now being manipulated by marijuana growers who cross-breed strains for increased potency. In essence, what that means is that when our kids are handed a joint at a party, they may have no idea exactly what they’re smoking or its level of potency. And, researchers still don’t know the full extent of the consequences when the body and brain (especially developing teen brains) are exposed to high concentrations of THC.
FACT 3: Think Marijuana isn’t Addictive? Think Again
Even though it’s widely believed that marijuana isn’t addictive, that notion is completely false. According to research, 9% of people who try marijuana eventually become addicted. What’s even more concerning is that this number increases to 17% for those who start using marijuana at an early age. And, the number rises sharply again for daily users to as high as 50% in some cases.
FACT 4: Don’t Be Tempted By Edibles – They’re Not as Harmless as They Look
Those harmless-looking marijuana edibles that come in the form of tempting brownies, gummy bears, or cookies aren’t so harmless after all.
Edibles are becoming increasingly available and the frightening part is there’s no way to tell the potency of marijuana in them making them even more dangerous than smoking weed.
Because it’s nearly impossible to tell how much weed is in a cookie or brownie, for instance, and manufacturers can’t guarantee the even distribution in a single edible, kids could be eating a brownie where one half of the brownie contains far higher THC levels than the other half.
Plus, edibles take longer than smoked marijuana to have an effect – typically 30-60 minutes with the peak of high taking effect 3-4 hours after ingesting – which means someone who isn’t familiar with its delayed effect could unknowingly eat large amounts which could lead to an overdose. Yes… you can overdose on weed. Intoxication, altered perception, paranoia, dizziness, weakness, slurred speech, poor coordination, and even heart problems are all potential signs of an overdose.
FACT 5: The Impact of Marijuana on Your Performance at School is a Serious Threat
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research has shown that marijuana’s negative impact on memory, attention, and learning can last for days or potentially even weeks after the effects of the drug wear off, depending on the person’s history with the drug. Reports also show that someone who smokes weed daily is most likely functioning at a reduced intellectual level most or all of the time.
Another recent report found that marijuana use was associated with reduced chances of graduating high school, an increase in developing a full-blown addiction to the drug, increased chances of turning to other drugs, and even suicide. Even another report revealed that people who smoked weed regularly reported that it negatively affected their physical and mental health as well as their social lives.
FACT 6: Marijuana Doesn’t Stay in the Body for Long… But THC Does
If someone told you that weed doesn’t stick around long in the body, they’d be right. What they might not realize though, is that the chemical in weed, THC, does. In fact, the effects of THC can wear off in as little as a few hours, but traces of the chemical can remain in the body for weeks. Basically, weed passes from the lungs to the bloodstream, but the THC bonds to fat cells which then break down slowly. The amount of time it takes to break down depends on a variety of different factors including how much the individual smokes, the method they used, how often they smoke, and their metabolism.
FACT 7: People Who Drive Within a Few Hours of Using Marijuana are Twice as Likely to Get into an Accident as Sober Drivers
Marijuana and driving do not mix. Marijuana is the most common illegal drug found in drivers who die in accidents – 14% of drivers. Here lies another serious issue…19% of teens have admitted to driving while they’re high. In fact, some claim “it makes them a better driver.” But, just as alcohol impairs driving ability, so does weed. It impacts alertness, coordination, reaction time, spatial sense, and perception — all of which are necessary for safe driving.
Plus, if they get pulled over and they’re suspected of using marijuana and tested, THC will show up in a standard urine drug test for up to 30-45 days after use. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, marijuana is the drug most frequently found in the blood of drivers who have been involved in vehicle crashes, including fatal ones. Other studies have shown that auto crashes are on the rise in marijuana-legalized states.
And, although officials haven’t begun to accurately test for levels of marijuana when a driver gets pulled over, police officers across the country are being trained to detect signs if someone is high and public safety measures are in the works to determine if someone is under the influence of marijuana while driving.
Weed may be legal in some states, but make no mistake about it: driving while high is illegal in all 50 states.
FACT 8: Marijuana Can Trigger Mental Health Issues Including Depression, Psychosis, and Paranoia
Research has shown that girls ages 14-15 who use marijuana daily are five times more likely to deal with depression by the age of 21. Plus, some kids who use marijuana experience a psychotic reaction including disturbed perceptions and thoughts along with paranoia when they’re high. Even though this reaction typically subsides as the drug’s effect wears off, researchers are still unsure if marijuana can cause lasting mental illness.
What they do know is that it can worsen psychotic symptoms in people who already have mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and, in some cases, it can increase the risk of prolonged psychosis.
Parents, talk to your kids about marijuana – a lot. Open the door to conversation, find out what they know, what they’re thinking, and what their friends are doing. Explain the dangers associated with marijuana, talk about the laws in your state, and remind them that if they’re on the hunt for a job, many employers are now issuing mandatory drug testing, which means if they’ve been using marijuana, their chances of getting the job just went up in smoke.
Establish ground rules and set expectations. So often parents pass off their teenager’s behavior (including pot smoking) as typical teen behavior. Remember, as long as your child is living under your roof, it’s your house, your rules.
Sometimes, regardless of how many conversations we have with our kids, how hard we try to deter them from getting involved in risky behavior, or how many rules and consequences we put in place, they still end up using marijuana out of sheer curiosity, rebellion, or peer pressure. However, studies have shown time and time again, that the more we talk with our kids about risky behavior, the less likely they are to cross the line when the chips are down. Communication is key. It is your greatest weapon.
We need to instill the thought in our children’s minds from day one that their decisions hold the power to influence their future.”
Recreational Cannabis Use By Teens Linked to Risk of Depression, Suicidality: Columbia University Department of Psychiatry