Parents right now might be at their all time coolest. You’ve seen them. Moms and dads with neck tattoos pushing strollers and sneaking hand-rolled cigarettes during nap time. Tatted up hip ‘rents are going to have a hard time telling their kids not to do all the shit that they definitely did fifteen years ago (and probably still do). So what the hell does a cool parent say to their cool kid when that cool kid starts doing cool drugs like pot?
Cannabist resident advice columnist Susan Squibb recently had to take on that very question when a woman wrote in wondering what the F to do about her 13 year-old stoner son. This mother is definitely on the cool side. Though she doesn’t use the sticky green stuff herself, she lives in the especially weed-tolerant state of Colorado and isn’t trying to be a stem in the bud. She says she “understand[s] that there are benefits to it” and “that it has a stigma that is unfair,” but still can’t quite dig “that it is OK for a child of this age to use it.”
Squibb advocates a light touch to the “weed talk.” If a parent comes down hard on the evils of weed, that’s not going to make their kid respect them or want to stay away from sweet Mary-Jane. But a parent who says, “Go and do whatever,” probably isn’t going to earn respect or get great results in their kid’s behaviour either.
“My line is, pot is much less dangerous than your parents told you and much more dangerous than your kids will tell you. That’s why we need to know more,” says Lori Fogarty of the Oakland Museum of California, which just ran a thorough exhibit on marijuana.
Weed’s not all good and not all bad, and parents and kids getting real about it is the only way to prevent the bad part. What is that bad part? Squibb mentions the obvious practical no bueno consequences of using weed during teen years. Though states are opening up to legal weed, there’s no state in the union where legal use by minors is legally legit. Getting busted can put a black mark on a teenager’s record and, even worse, make receiving financial aid for education a lot more difficult.
Other not so great effects of heavy weed consumption in early years include an increased likelihood for addiction to various substances later in life, a claim backed up by “numerous high-quality studies” according to Laura Borgelt, a pharmacotherapy specialist at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and member of the Colorado Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee. Some legitimate studies also point, less conclusively, to poor performance in school and development of mental illness as a result of inhaling a few too many bong hits.
Though weed science for adolescent development is still a little vague, the good news is that it should get a lot more exact soon. A large-scale quantitative research project called the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, which will track 10,000 kids in U.S. cities to look at the effects of just about everything they come in contact with, including weed. So, in another generation, cool parents will have another tool for talking to their cool kids about cool drugs. What’s cooler than data and graphs compiled through quantitative research?