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Marijuana and Youth: Facts for Parents


The most readily abused substance among US teens is marijuana. The high availability, perception of less harm, media and peer influences are a few of the reasons that marijuana use is rising among youth and teens. In fact, over 45% of U.S. teens will have tried marijuana at least one in their lifetime by the time they finish high school. [1]

Parents play an influencing role in a teen’s decision to use marijuana and other substances. Talking openly with your children and staying actively engaged in their lives will help prevent underage marijuana use. Help your child/youth sort out fact from myth will help them make the soundest decision on whether or not they use marijuana.

The following are tips on for how to discuss marijuana with your child: [2]

  • Ask what your child or youth knows about using marijuana. Listen carefully, pay attention, and do not interrupt. Avoid making negative or angry comments.
  • Talk about the risks and consequences of smoking marijuana
  • To help ensure your child fully understands the effects of marijuana, ask them what they thing the effects and consequences are of using marijuana and other drugs.
  • Be honest with your child about your own experiences with drugs and your reasons behind your own usage, paying attention not to glamorize marijuana or other drugs. A key component also is discussing the negative results and dangers that resulted from you or your friends' drug use.

If you suspect your child may be using marijuana, some common signs of marijuana use are:

  • Being hungry and eating more than usual
  • Dizziness
  • Acting nonsensical for no reason
  • Red eyes or use of eye drops
  • Increased irritability
  • Lack of interest or motivation in usual activities
  • Trouble recalling things that just occurred
  • A smell on clothes, or the use of incense or other deodorizers
  • Owning clothing, posters, or jewelry encouraging drug use
  • Having pipes or rolling papers
  • Stealing money or having money that cannot be accounted for

A common misconception among teenagers is that marijuana is safer to use than alcohol or other drugs. When discussing marijuana with your child/teen, knowing the consequences of underage marijuana use is a helpful prevention tool.

Additional Resources:


1 US Department of Health and Human Services NIH Publication 13-40362

2 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_f...