Coming Out of the Green Closet is a series of articles regarding being honest about your relationship with cannabis. These following articles are designed to offer simple talking points towards having these important conversations with those in your life and communities, if you choose to. Part three, Coming Out of the Green Closet: Talking to a Teenager about Cannabis focuses on having an open dialogue about cannabis with teenagers or young adults.
Your teenagers may encounter friends or classmates who use cannabis in an irresponsible and possibly addictive manner. This would be a good opportunity to get ahead of the conversation and ensure you and your teenager are openly communicating about any issues they may experience while away from you. This is also a good opportunity to ensure your teenager is armed with the necessary information in order to make informed and educated decisions about cannabis. Parenting is hard enough; let’s not make it harder by not communicating and not being able to trust each other.
If you are using cannabis and you have teenagers in your home, honesty and education are always the best policies. Being transparent with your teenager about your cannabis usage will probably encourage them to be more open and honest with you about things in their own life. Teach them about our Human Endocannabinoid System. They might not learn about it in school and this can be an important lesson for them and you! This may be the introduction about responsible cannabis usage that they and/or their peers possibly need.
If you keep cannabis in your home and you have teenagers in your home, it is important to set clear boundaries around your cannabis stash. It also maybe smart to make sure your teenager knows your stash is off limits to them and anyone who comes into your home. Each child is different so make decisions based on your kid and your personal situation.
On the flip side, if you find out your teenager is the cannabis user it is important for the parents or guardians to be informed about cannabis so they can communicate with their teenager from a place of knowledge and authority. Sit down and explain to your teenager that cannabis is a plant that has been used around the world for medicinal and social purposes. As a medicine, it helps to decrease pain, reduce swelling, and it helps with many more serious conditions. When used socially, it makes the user feel relaxed, happy, or euphoric—especially after a long day.
It is also important to remind your teenager of the consequences they could be exposed to if they are caught using cannabis recreationally as a minor in a way their state did not intend. Teenagers should also be aware of the risks of buying cannabis off the black market or obtaining their cannabis illegally. Despite the legal risks, there are health risks. All cannabis is not created equal. Every cannabis plant is different depending on genetics, environment, and farming practices. Every body is different and it would be irresponsible and potentially very dangerous for a teenager to consume cannabis without considering all those factors.
How will you handle the topic of cannabis in your home? Do you think parents should be honest and open with their teenagers in regards to their cannabis consumption? Again, this conversation and the boundaries placed around cannabis will be different for every household. I encourage you to figure out what that conversation will be and how you will set boundaries around cannabis consumption in your household before your teenagers start experimenting with cannabis with their peers, possibly exposing themselves to unsafe situations that could be easily avoidable had they been given the knowledge.
Additional resources and articles for teenagers & parents:
This Cannabis Use and Youth Guide is a resource for parents who want to learn more about how cannabis usage may affect your teenagers develpoment.
Ashley Asatu Barnes is a healer, truth teller, seed planter, collaborator, and creator of brave spaces. Ashley specializes in cannabis education, cannabis wellness, and cannabis therapy plans in the San Francisco Bay Area.