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Parenting in the Haze of Legalized Marijuana


Jan 23 2014
What do I tell my kids about pot?

I got out of my minivan, and I could smell it in the rec center parking lot. Minutes later, my 11-year-old could, too.

Our first discussion about the new Colorado law that legalizes marijuana began with her asking, "What's that smell?" It forced a conversation we needed to have anyway about marijuana, its effects on behavior, and the new laws that might make that smell more common. "You mean it might smell like this all the time?" The only response I could offer was, "I don't know."

I'd learned she'd already talked with her grandmother, my mom, about the people standing in lines outside storefronts for their first chance to buy recreational marijuana legally. In Denver these days, it seems everyone's talking about the Broncos or marijuana.

Adults haven't quite made sense of it all yet, so it's even harder to explain to kids. It's legal in Colorado, but still illegal under the federal law? How will this all play out in a year? Five years? Ten years? Will the jokes ever go away, or will we keep hearing Jimmy Kimmel make cracks about the "Mile High City"? When will the craze of hemp-minded tourists peter off? Will we see more crime, or simply more tax revenue?

Parents can't help but ask themselves even more questions: Will pot be more accessible to my teenager next month? Next year? How about my pre-teen? Will the marijuana "edibles" packaged as candy make their way into my kids' hands?

Though parents are perplexed and looking for guidance on how the new law trickles down to the kitchen table discussions, I've found only a single local news story about parenting through it. A Denver Post article that ran the first week of January: Teens and pot use: Parents, here's what you need to talk about.

The reporter interviewed local healthcare professionals to debunk common myths about the drug. The experts state that pot use is dangerous for developing brains. That teenagers and young adults carry a higher risk of becoming regular users because of how their brains interact with the drug. That there can be long-term damage to a young person's IQ, plus respiratory harm if the marijuana is smoked. Pot use is not good for young people's bodies and minds. And now, we can assume it will be easier than ever for our kids to acquire.

As John Piper writes in his recent blog post Don't Let Your Mind Go to Pot, we must convey to our children that their bodies are vessels of the Holy Spirit, to be cared for because God lives in them (1 Cor. 6:19-20). There are lots of activities that are both legal and fall within the social norm that I do not want my children to participate in. Whether legal or not, socially accepted as "no big deal" or not, my kids have God-given free will that may lead them to make choices I disagree with in all kinds of areas. I know laws alone don't dictate our children's behavior or outcomes, but I do know my husband and I appreciate when the laws feel like a help rather than a hindrance in steering my kids toward our moral framework. Piper notes:

Related Topics:Colorado; Drug Wars; Marijuana
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Parenting in the Haze of Legalized Marijuana