Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Are Teens Getting the Wrong Message From Legalized Marijuana?

Many are concerned that the decriminalization of marijuana in Washington State and the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado is sending the wrong message to teens about the nature of marijuana and the use of other illicit drugs. And it’s not just parents who are concerned.

R. Gil Kerlikowske is the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). He told The Oregonian that “[w]e are certainly not sending a very good message when we call it medicine and legalize it.”

The San Francisco Examiner also reports Kerlikowske as saying “[m]edicinal marijuana has never been through the FDA process. We have the world’s most renowned process to decide what is medicine and what should go in people’s bodies. And marijuana has never been through that process.”

Officially, the ONDCP says that marijuana is not a safe substance and identifies it as an addictive drug, especially for adolescents and teenagers. Despite the laws that are changing in some states, it is still illegal under federal law. It’s certainly a mixed message that our kids are receiving about marijuana. So how can parents help to ensure the safety of their kids when even governments can’t agree on how to handle the issue?

Educating Your Teens

With so much in the media about marijuana, it’s likely that your teen is getting an earful about the drug and whether or not it’s a safe substance from friends and others. Make sure that your voice is heard as well, and weigh in with your opinion on the subject. Even if it seems like your son is less than interested in listening, studies show that kids do consider their parents’ opinions when it comes to making decisions, and many teens report that they choose not to indulge in drug and alcohol abuse because they know their parents are against it.

Present the Facts: Marijuana Is Dangerous

In a 2012 survey, it was reported that more than 7 percent of drivers in California were driving under the influence of marijuana—a much larger percentage than the number of drivers under the influence of alcohol. Everyone is well aware of the dangers of driving while drunk, but not as much press has been given to the fact that driving under the influence of any drug, including marijuana, can lead to deadly accidents. It’s one of many facts that you can impress upon your teen in addition to the health consequences of chronic smoking, addiction and more.

If your teen is having an issue with smoking marijuana and is unable to stop despite your intervention, we can help at Muir Wood. Call now for information about our rehabilitation programs designed for teen boys.