By Jody Boulay
The Marijuana industry is big business, whether medical or recreational cannabis. While Alabama has strict recreational marijuana laws and a bumpy history with medical marijuana legalization, it is still a popular drug among teens.
Cannabis companies capitalize on 4/20 celebrations like alcohol companies use St. Patrick’s Day or the holiday season. Parents should be aware of the influence and have constructive conversations with their kids about drugs.
“Age matters for marijuana users. It makes a difference how young someone is when they first start using marijuana, namely in terms of developing an addiction to other substances,” said Marcel Gemme, Founder & CEO of Addicted.org.
In Alabama, 7% of 12 to 17-year-olds reported using drugs last month. Among those teens, 84% reported using marijuana in the previous month, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics.
The teen brain is actively developing and continues to develop until around age 25. Marijuana during adolescence does harm the developing brain.
The short, frequent discussions parents have with their kids about marijuana have a tangible impact on their decisions to use the drug. The following tips are helpful:
Talk often and build an open and trusting relationship. Lots of little talks are more effective.
Make your views and rules about marijuana clear. Discuss beliefs and opinions. Be honest and express a clear message. Do not lecture or make threats.
Ask them questions about what they know about marijuana, listen to their opinions, and answer their questions.
Lead by example; what parents do is as important as what they say.
Provide factual information about the risks and dangers. Be prepared to share personal experiences.
Much of the media coverage of 4/20 is a consumer interest story. Cannabis products are also marketed in different ways. Like any other marketed product, it will eventually need a new client base.
Jody Boulay is a mother of two with a passion for helping others. She currently works as a Community Outreach Coordinator for Addicted.org to help spread awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.