How to Talk About Cannabis With Kids

Cannabis has been legal since 2018. Have you had a talk about it with your kids? Here’s how to broach the cannabis subject and what to keep in mind.

They grow up so fast. One day you are bringing your bundle of joy home from the hospital and the next you are helping them pack for college. Along the journey from cradle to flying the coop, you will have had several talks about life that you think, and hope, will prepare them for the big scary world. Now that cannabis is legal, it makes sense to have the cannabis talk relatively early on in a child’s life.

When and how to talk about cannabis with your children

Whether you consume cannabis recreationally or medically, a great starting point is to learn about how to safely store and consume cannabis, as nobody wants the first family talk to unfold after an emergency visit to the vet to treat the family dog for cannabis intoxication.

When you casually tell your partner, “I’m going out for a quick breath of fresh air,” and come back to your kiddo saying that you smell like a barn fire, you know the cannabis chat time is well-nigh. This might happen between ages four and seven, depending on how frequently you imbibe. As with sensitive discussions about alcohol, sexuality and the truth about Santa Claus, try to be factual and consistent. If your child asks why you consume cannabis point-blank, consider responding with honesty. It may also be useful to share up-to-date information about the medical benefits and drawbacks of cannabis consumption. The goal is to not overwhelm your child with complex information, instead, match your messaging to your child’s level of curiosity and interest. This means you may have to have several conversations over time, gradually filling in the gaps in knowledge your kiddo may have.

Cannabis in the family home

Once you’ve got a good handle on cannabis storage and individual dose tolerances, a positive next step is to model responsible consumption routines. Consider enjoying cannabis recreationally when the kids have gone to bed and at least one adult is sober. If cannabis is consumed for medical purposes, think about letting your older children know your dose routine, so they can be aware of possible changes in your state of being. As secondhand smoke or vapor from cannabis can be hazardous to children, be sure to step outside when consuming. When you come back inside, consider ventilation or turning on a nebulizer with essential oils to manage any smells that might linger. Again, with older children, think about empowering them with the necessary skills and knowledge about the cannabis kept in the house. Whether it be gummies, topicals or joints, ask your child to let you know right away if they find the safe storage box left open accidentally. Much like alcohol and prescription drugs in the house, it’s important to have an emergency plan in place in case of accidental overdose.

Protecting young minds

Cannabis is legal for those 19 years of age or older. Evidence-based research shows that underage consumption of cannabis can cause serious and permanent damage to developing minds. For this reason, education is so important. When your child becomes a teenager and is asked if they want a puff from a joint, the decision they make may rely heavily on the conversations they’ve had with you.

Many teens have reported turning down someone offering them cannabis because they know it is illegal to consume and have reliable information about how cannabis can negatively affect developing brains. Role playing scenarios where your child is offered cannabis can help them feel ready to respond with confidence. As we all know, peer pressure plays a large role in the decisions that many tweens and teens make when away from the home. If we work to create an environment where curiosity and learning are celebrated in the home, it stands to reason that modelling safe and responsible cannabis use at an early age will result in a similar approach to cannabis use when of legal age.