Talking to Youth about Retail Marijuana

Guest Blog from Good To Know Colorado

cmj_ta_200x200-002With retail marijuana legal for adults ages 21 and older in Colorado, it’s more important than ever that if you’re a parent, teacher, coach, or someone that youth trust, that you reinforce the importance of not using it before the legal age. By being prepared to have the conversation, you can help youth avoid the health risks, as well as the legal and academic consequences, associated with underage retail marijuana use.

According to the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS), supportive adults, including parents, teachers, and coaches, can help reduce underage marijuana use. In fact, youth who can ask a parent or guardian for help are 1.6 times less likely to use marijuana and those whose parents feel like it’s wrong are four times less likely to use.

Survey results also showed that of the Colorado high school seniors who use marijuana, more than one in three started before age 15. This is why it’s important to start the conversation early and have it often. However, having the talk isn’t always easy. That’s why the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) developed resources to provide you with the facts and tips you need. These resources—found at several key topics, including:

  • Tips for talking with youth of different ages
  • Information on the legal consequences of using retail marijuana before age 21, including Minor in Possession charges, loss of financial aid or employment, and being removed from sports teams or extracurricular activities
  • The health effects of using retail marijuana before age 21, including difficulty learning, memory issues, negative impacts on athletic performance, and impaired judgment
  • Facts about today’s methods of consumption and slang terms, so you can understand the different ways youth use and talk about marijuana

Once you feel ready to talk, remember to listen carefully and stay positive. Keep the conversation open so they feel comfortable and safe coming to you with questions. Finally, give them the facts they need, including that four out of five high school students are NOT using marijuana (2015 HKCS), so they shouldn’t feel pressured into it.

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