Updated: May 17, 2020
It's no surprise that more parents are talking to their children about cannabis. In fact, this isn't a new practice either. However there has been a shift in how many parents approach this topic and what is being discussed. When I was a child and learning about marijuana, I was told it was a bad drug and now I giggle at the memory of my mother telling me she would call the authorities herself if she ever caught me with pot. As a mom myself, many things are different when it comes to talking about cannabis with my children.
There are many different avenues that will bring parents and their children to the topic of cannabis. There are also different perspectives that should be looked at. This talk can be intimidating and might raise many questions. Why do parents need to talk to their children about cannabis? How old should the child be? What views does the parent want to instill in their child? How much should the child know? The questions grow and grow just like the plant!
For many families, including mine, the topic of cannabis comes up when its being used as a medicine by a family member. The use of medical cannabis has become more prominent as more and more states approve legalized medical cannabis programs. Patients of all ages are learning about cannabis and finding relief and improved wellness with its presence. In my family, I was a patient for a year before I really faced the reality of talking with my son about cannabis. Although I was very discreet, there were times my son would see my "medicine" and thats all he knew it was... medicine. Society is used to medicine, in fact my son had been taking prescription pills since kindergarden, he never thought twice about seeing the dispensary bag on the counter or the tiny bottles of oils and vape cartridges. And probably like many parents, I didn't see the need to explain it further. I didn't know what I didn't know. I didn't see the bigger picture yet, and even though it was legal for me to consume cannabis, I still worried about the stigma.
When a child is using cannabis to treat one of the myriad of conditions that tend to see success with cannabinoids, the parent has a decision to make. This decision is one that I made when I decided to start using full spectrum CBD for my son's ADHD. I was taking a risk at the time because we were temporarily living in a non-legal state, my son is a minor and it is illegal to give a child cannabinoids unless recommended by physician and the child is a medical card holder. My son was barely 8 at the time, and smart enough to know that his CBD oil was not like the other "medicines" he had taken before. So I was honest with him... I told him he was taking CBD oil, which came from a plant (and that explained why he thought the oil tastes “like dirt”). But another point I wanted to make clear was that this plant was called cannabis and was not allowed in most states, including the state we were in at the time. He needed to understand there was a risk factor if he started telling all his classmates he started a new medicine called cannabis. He really didn't ask many questions, he was just thankful he didn't have to take his pills anymore. I took that as a good thing since I had no idea how to approach this topic in the first place... this wasn't how the pot talk went with my mother. It didn't take long for me to realize that this education was going to continue on, and then suddenly I realized just how important it was.
There was an afternoon I was outside on my South Florida lanai smoking a joint that my son caught a glimpse of from our kitchen. He thought I was smoking cigarettes. I have never been a cigarrette smoker, and I was concerned that my child thought differently. So it was time to educate him further on cannabis and plant based medicine. This is the first time my son saw cannabis in flower form. I showed him the container it came in from the dispensary, pulled some buds out and let him look at it and smell it. I explained this is what is used to make his oils and that there are many ways to use the plant, one way being smoking. I feel this was a relief to both of us. He knew his mommy wasn't smoking cancer sticks and I knew he had a better understanding of this healing plant and practically no stigma associated with it because he had learned it from me. As a cannabis advocate and consultant working actively in the industry, my son has learned a lot about cannabis and has even read through a legalization petition. He is also a legal patient so we are no longer at risk for his medicine. He was quite excited when his medical card came in the mail and that made me a proud cannabis mom.
What about siblings? Well, my youngest is 2 yrs old and she's already learning. Just the other day she was holding a cannabis magazine and saw a picture of a bottle of oil and pointed out brother's "oils". While she is too young to understand cannabis, she's well on her way to growing up learning about it and not having a stigma associated. While I feel all children should be educated on cannabis, siblings of cannabis users hold a high priority.
It all boils down to this... the stigma and prohibition of cannabis is on its way out. Its our duty as parents to educate our children and prepare them for the future. The future of cannabis is evolving rapidly and changing almost daily. Slowly but surely, gone are the days of reefer madness, welcomed by the days of believing cannabis heals and further astounding research! Its important for children, our future, to be educated so that they can make their own opinions and choices when the time is right. Bringing up the birds and the bees, drugs and alcohol, right and wrong can be difficult for parents. Knowing how to approach a topic that is widely accepted in some states and absolutely criminal in others is scary! But it's one that we can not avoid. We can show our children just how amazing this plant is, and we should show them. It’s important for the younger generation to learn and appreciate holistic and natural healing as we turn from a society so dependent on synthetic man made treatments to a society that heals from something as simple as a plant. The rate of which we educate will depend on circumstances and the child, in my opinion parent's should go with their gut on what they feel comfortable sharing, but to remember that cannabis is a very safe alternative and there is no denying its effective in many ways and will continue to become a mainstream therapy.