Here’s How To Talk to Your Kids About Marijuana Now that It’s Legal for Recreational Use.

Here's how To Talk to Your Kids About Marijuana Now that It's Legal for Recreational Use.

Because of the legalization of marijuana for adult use in Missouri, children are more likely to be exposed to it at home or at school. Whether you and your partner are tolerant of cannabis in your home or not, research shows that informing kids about the drug can reduce its use by minors.

It’s important to arm yourself with knowledge about marijuana use and its effects on young people’s brains and bodies before having a conversation about the drug with your kids.

For the state of Missouri, the legal age for recreational marijuana use is 21. Under state law, a medical marijuana application for a minor must be accompanied by a signed consent form from the minor’s parent or legal guardian before the application may be processed by the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Create a Plan for Starting Conversations About Marijuana

Your child’s age and level of knowledge will determine the specifics of your marijuana conversation with them. Do not assume that your children will start using marijuana because you have brought up the subject.

Talk About It is a Missouri-based website that provides free “talking kits” to parents in an effort to lessen the negative effects of substance abuse. There are a variety of conversation starters and helpful hints in each age-appropriate talking kit. The following topics are suggested by Talk About It for your next conversation:

  • In grades pre-K through 2, setting a “relaxed tone” will help you create credibility by fostering positive, productive habits among your students.
  • Grades 3 through 5: Explain the dangers of drugs, their effects, and how to avoid giving in to peer pressure.
  • Keep the lines of communication open, explain why some medicines and narcotics are misused, and make it clear what your attitude is as a parent on marijuana if your child is in sixth through eighth grade.
  • For students in grades 9-12, emphasize the value of positive coping strategies and describe the dire results of drug usage.
  • Parents of college freshmen, please allow your children some freedom and space to develop their own interests and skills while still being there for guidance and support.

For a supply of conversation starters, visit talkaboutitmo.com/talking-kits/.

It could be useful if you encouraged your kids to talk to their friends about marijuana use. For youth and young adults, Talk Regarding It also provides talking kits for peer-to-peer discussions about substance abuse.

The Missouri Student Survey for 2022 conducted by the Missouri Department of Mental Health found that approximately 20% of Greene County students in grades 6-12 thought their friends would think they were “quite cool” or “extremely cool” if they smoked marijuana. About 3,386 schoolchildren in Greene County were polled regarding their attitudes toward and experiences with substance abuse.

Teach About Marijuana’s Effects on The Body and Mind

Samantha Sherman heads up the Prevention and Youth Support Division of Community Partnership of the Ozarks. Sherman advises twenty-one counties in the region on how to talk to kids about drugs and alcohol.

Speaking about “brain health” while discussing marijuana use is “an approach I think is helpful,” Sherman added. Young people are really receptive to and interested in that.

More study is needed to completely understand the effects of marijuana on the growing brain, however, studies have shown that usage before the age of 18 may have an influence on functions including attention, memory, and learning.

Here's how to talk to your children about marijuana, now that recreational weed is legal

Researchers have discovered that THC has an effect on the endocannabinoid system in the brain, which regulates processes including memory, attention, growth, and response to stress and emotion. Healthline reports that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) binds to CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain and nervous system, respectively, upon entry into the body.

In a nutshell, THC is like a key that fits into a receptor lock and allows a chemical reaction to take place. This receptor binding can have both beneficial effects like pain relief and appetite stimulation and detrimental consequences like paranoia and anxiety. Everyone’s endocannabinoid system reacts slightly differently to THC.

The CDC warns that the effects of marijuana on growing brains can vary widely depending on factors such as the user’s genetics, the frequency with which they consume the drug, the age at which they start using it, and whether or not other substances were also used at the same time.

If an Adult Is Using Marijuana at Home, Keep Stored in A Locked Place

According to the Department of Mental Health Missouri Student Survey for 2022, over 31% of Greene County students in grades 6-12 said that they thought it would be “very” or “kind of” easy to obtain marijuana.

Sherman suggested that adults who use marijuana store any unused supplies and equipment in an inaccessible location, away from curious kids.

Ongoing Communication Is Important

To paraphrase what Sherman said, “I advise that it is an ongoing debate and it really is a part of the culture of everyone’s home,” regarding marijuana or another substance usage. Take an interest in your child’s activities and the people they hang out with; research shows that this reduces the likelihood that your teen may experiment with drugs like alcohol and marijuana.

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence research shows that open communication between parents and children reduces young people’s risk of substance abuse by half.

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