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How To Talk To Your Children About Legal Marijuana

Elizabeth D’Amico is a behavioral scientist at RAND Corporation and a licensed clinical psychologist. She has researched drug and alcohol use among teens for more than 20 years. And she is a mom. Last week, D’Amico appeared on PBS NewsHour and offered up her views on how to talk to your children about marijuana legalization.

Here are some excerpts from D’Amico’s segment:

Since recreational marijuana was legalized in California last fall, a new billboards pop up all the time to advertise the fine art of smoking weed and where to buy it.

This leads my kids, 11 and 13, to ask a lot of questions: Why do people smoke marijuana? It can’t be bad if it’s legal and they can advertise, right, mom?

As always, it is best to give balanced, honest answers based on facts. Why do people smoke marijuana? Some may smoke it for medical reasons, to help with pain. Others may smoke it recreationally.

Parents might liken it to alcohol. You know how some people have a glass of wine with dinner to relax? Now some may smoke pot for the same reason.

For D’Amico, the “Just Say No” method simply does not work. And trying to scare children with Reefer Madness exaggerations is folly as well.

Instead, D’Amico urges parents to share facts and be just be honest:

Given this changing legal landscape, my kids and yours are going to be exposed to marijuana as frequently as they are to alcohol. And now that it’s legal, here come the marketing campaigns, which all make smoking pot seem normal.

And just like alcohol and tobacco ads, marijuana ads may influence their choices. My own research has shown that middle school kids who reported seeing ads for medical marijuana were more likely to report smoking pot one year later.

You can’t just say, don’t do it. But you can get the facts, share them with your kids, and help them make a healthy choice.

Click here to watch the segment.

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