Starting the Conversation
As this booklet has shown, marijuana can pose a particular threat to the health and well-being of children and adolescents at a critical point in their lives—when they are growing, learning, maturing, and laying the foundation for their adult years. As a parent, your children look to you for help and guidance in working out problems and in making decisions, including the decision not to use drugs. Even if you have used drugs in the past, you can have an open conversation about the dangers. Divulging past drug use is an individual decision, but having used drugs should not prevent you from talking to your child about the dangers of drug use. In fact, experience can better equip us to teach others, including drawing on the value of possible mistakes.
Greater acceptance of marijuana use, compared with use of other illegal drugs, continues to underlie divergent opinions about its dangers, illegality, and potential value. Indeed, the ongoing public debate about "medical marijuana" may complicate your discussion.
Whether or not marijuana becomes legalized or permitted for medical purposes, it can be particularly dangerous for adolescents and can alter the trajectory of a young life, preventing a person from reaching their full potential. That is reason enough to have this sometimes difficult conversation with your children. We hope this booklet can serve as a catalyst and helpful guide to beginning the dialogue and, more importantly, continuing it and keeping the channels of communication open.
As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both brain and behavior.