You owe it to the young people in your life to talk about marijuana, its health effects, and the consequences of underage use. Whether you’re a parent, teacher or coach, it’s important to remember your words have power. Youth are less likely to use marijuana when they have supportive adults and parents in their lives, which is why it’s so important to talk with them about marijuana.
Your words can help decide their future.
It’s not always possible to plan for a conversation about weed, and that’s okay. It’s easy to forget the power your words have on youth, so if you start a conversation and have to come back to it later, they’ll be listening. Talking with a nine-year-old is much different than talking with an 18-year-old, so check out Speak Now Colorado for tips on how to approach your conversation about weed and other substances. Find a time to start talking that works for both of you, leaving plenty of room for questions and answers.
Your words do make a difference. Youth who have an adult they can talk to are less likely to use marijuana, so follow these tips and start the conversation now:
This isn’t just a "marijuana conversation," it’s a conversation about what youth need to succeed and what can get in their way. Young people pay attention to what you say and the example you set. You don’t have to be a parent to have an influence. Get the conversation going with these tips:
The more you understand how marijuana can affect young people’s health, the more powerful your words will be.
Marijuana can impact their brains, which are still developing
Teens’ brains are in a constant state of development and studies have shown that full brain development is not complete until age 25. Marijuana can have a negative effect on their brain’s development. For the best chance for youth to reach their full potential, help them to understand why they shouldn’t use marijuana underage.
LEARNING AND MEMORY
Weed can make it harder to learn
Using marijuana regularly underage can impact a youth’s ability to learn and remember things. Youth who use marijuana regularly have also been shown to have lower math and reading scores. Weed’s effects on the brain can last for weeks after quitting.
If youth start using marijuana at a young age, it can become harder to stop. Youth who start using marijuana, alcohol or other drugs — even occasionally — may be more likely to continue using later in life. Remember that your words can help define their future.
Marijuana can affect physical and athletic performance
Marijuana smoke has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, which is not healthy for lungs. That means it can make it harder for a young person to breathe and participate in physical activities. Marijuana can impact a teen's ability to learn new skills, even weeks after he or she last used. It can also affect coordination, meaning it can affect youth’s ability to participate in everything from playing sports to playing music.
Underage marijuana use comes with consequences that can get in the way of a young person's goals and plans—like attending college, getting a job, or joining an after school club. Understanding how marijuana can impact their futures helps you have a more impactful conversation.
It’s important to tell your kids how you feel about underage marijuana use and that there will be consequences if they do choose to use. Youth want to gain your trust because that can lead to more freedom like driving privileges and staying out with friends. But if they break your trust, that can mean losing those freedoms, which is something no young person wants.
If youth are caught using marijuana, they could get in trouble with their school. That means they can be removed from sports teams and other activities, suspended, expelled or referred to drug counseling. Parents, coaches and teachers have a responsibility to talk to youth about underage marijuana use.
If someone under the age of 21 gets caught with marijuana, they could get a Minor in Possession (MIP) charge. It’s important to let youth know that MIPs could also mean fines, driver's license suspension, the loss of financial aid and misdemeanor or felony charges. If they are caught using at their school, they could be reported to local law enforcement and could be arrested. It’s important to note that youth who are legally prescribed medical marijuana are protected from legal consequences.
A lot of teens work hard to get financial aid for college. Marijuana charges, including Minor in Possession (MIP) charges, can take away what they have worked so hard for in an instant. That’s because an MIP can result in the loss of federal financial aid for college, including Perkins Loans, Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, PLUS Loans and Work-Study Programs. Even if they aren’t thinking about college yet or have other plans in mind after high school, remind them that it’s never worth the chance.
Regardless of age, many employers don’t allow their employees to use marijuana. This could mean losing a job and the freedoms that come along with making money. Make sure they understand the importance of building good references and not letting weed take away the things that can help.