With more and more states considering legalizing marijuana, I’m not concerned with how this will affect the future drug talks I will have with my teenagers. In fact – although I will surely press for not experimenting with anything – if they are going to experiment with drugs during their teens, my fingers are crossed that it’s marijuana instead of alcohol.
As someone who experimented with drugs in my youth, I don’t have the luxury of being naive about this topic; I know that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Parents have long been dealing with talking to their kids about alcohol – if they live in a state where marijuana is legal, they are just going to have to add the weed talk to their arsenals. The same explanations will apply; it’s a substance that impairs your abilities, it’s illegal, and it can get you into a lot of trouble. From Today Moms:
“For kids here now, the quote-unquote ‘drug culture’ is just a fact of life, like liquor stores or bars anywhere else,” says Zakary Watson, a Black Forest, Colo., mother of a 13-year old daughter and 6-year old son. She stresses that the streets have not suddenly become seedy or unsafe just because you might come across a pot shop while running errands with your family. “That said, I will drink a glass of wine in front of my kids, but I would never smoke a joint in front of them. That’s my personal preference.”
If it becomes legal and I ever decide to use it – the only reason I would have a problem using it in front of my teenagers would be the second-hand smoke factor. I wouldn’t insist it was any worse than alcohol if it were legal. The reason I don’t smoke it now is because it’s illegal. Well, that and the fact that I need all the energy I have and can’t afford to have the munchies constantly.
Although I may not agree with it being illegal, if it stays that way I would never model illegal behavior to my teenagers. I think it’s important that teens know that it is necessary to follow the law. I also think it is important for them to be able to make informed decisions. When the time comes, I will openly talk to them about the dangers of using any substance that impairs your motor skills or judgment.
My personal belief is that marijuana use is just not as dangerous as alcohol use. That’s not to say that it’s safe or healthy – but as a career bartender, I’ve spent years exposed to the ugly side of alcohol use. I think most people who stigmatize marijuana use do so because of the illegal aspect as well as a lack of knowledge or experience with the drug.
Clearly, I would rather my teenagers never touch any drugs. But when the time for the drug talk comes my biggest emphasis will be on maturity and moderation – not stigmatizing one over the other. Unless, of course, we’re talking about any other drugs besides these two. Then I’m going to be as pearl-clutchy as the rest of the parents.
(photo: Getty Images)