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NIDA

Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know

Starting the Conversation

As this guide has shown, marijuana use can affect the health and well-being of children and teens 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. Whether or not you tell your child about your past drug use is a personal decision. But experience can better equip us to teach others by drawing on the value of past mistakes. You can explain that marijuana is significantly more potent now and that we now know a lot more about the potential harmful effects of marijuana on the developing brain.

Greater acceptance of marijuana use, compared with use of other illegal drugs, continues to be the basis of differing opinions about its dangers, legal status, and potential value. The ongoing public debate about medical marijuana may complicate your discussion. Even so, be certain the discussion focuses on how much you care about your child’s health. 

Whether or not marijuana becomes legal for adult use or allowed for medical use, it can be harmful for teens and can alter the course of a young life, preventing a person from reaching his or her full potential. That's reason enough to have this sometimes difficult conversation with your children. We hope this guide encourages and helps parents to begin the dialogue and, more importantly, to keep the channels of communication open.

This page was last updated June 2016