Since the “Just Say No” and War on Drugs campaigns in the 1980s, a moral mandate and template that ‘All Drugs are bad’ has been adopted by the majority of parents. But, how to protect our children against recreational marijuana legalization?
In this era of broader acceptance of marijuana where over 21 states have legalized the medical use of the drug and Washington and Colorado have even legalized its recreational use, this template/catchphrase has seemed to oversimplify the complex landscape of the drug usage in the country.
A report issued by the National Institute of Drug Abuse suggests that 18-22-year-olds are the biggest users of prescription drugs and account for the largest overdose fatality for this age group, even more than the deaths caused by the consumption of illegal drugs. As a parent, being aware of these realities that your child MAY self-medicate in the future and having a balanced nuanced approach towards this problem is necessary. Rather than adhering to just saying “No”, a harm-reduction strategy needs to be developed that involves you and your child in the process.
Marsha Rosenbaum, author of Safety First explains, “No parent wants his or her teenager to use drug and to prevent adolescents who do experiment from falling into abusive patterns, we need to create fallback strategies that focus on safety.” As an adult, it is our responsibility to have an honest dialog with our children and share fact-based information to counter the cynicism and distrust amongst them regarding this issue.
Despite the admonitions and advice given by educators and parents, teenagers tend to “experiment” with marijuana and with its legalization; it has put forth another hurdle as marijuana is becoming a part of the normal adult life. However, Schools can play an integral and crucial role by rejecting the ineffective strategies and out-dated programs that try instilling fear into minds of children. Instead, the pragmatic strategy needs to be developed and authentic and science-based information should be forwarded to the teenagers.
Teenagers should be given drug education that accentuates personal responsibility, common sense, moderation and in-depth knowledge. They should understand that legalization of marijuana applies to adults only and they should refrain from the drug until the age of 21 or else face the legal and social consequences of underage marijuana use.
Being aware of the influences in your teenager’s life, from social media platforms to music and the internet is a must. Teenagers must be given credible information and sources to read-up, rejecting sources that offer a completely one-sided view. Parents need to be non-judgmental and hear their kid’s opinions and thoughts. Also, refrain from giving punishment threats as they may backfire and results of this can be devastating.
There is no set procedure to tackle this menace but rather open, loving and compassionate communication with your kid will earn you their trust. Advice is more effective when it’s requested rather than being forced upon someone. Safeguarding our children from illegal marijuana use is a must as it will be beneficial for the society and the individuals involved as well.