Haven’t talked to your kids about cannabis yet? Now’s the time. Fear not though – what seems like a difficult conversation doesn’t have to be. Rather than think about it like, ‘having THE TALK’ (daunting) think about broaching the subject with kids as more like setting the stage for an open, ongoing dialogue about cannabis. One that equips you both with the info you need to support each other.
We asked Aliza Sherman, Cofounder and CEO of Ellementa, the global women’s cannabis wellness network, to weigh in with her pointers on how to talk about cannabis with kids.
KF: How can a parent know when their kid is ready to talk about cannabis?
AS: In the past, we waited to talk to our kids about drugs around the same time we talked to them about sex, thinking that we were picking the right time based on when we thought they might encounter the topic at school or amongst their peers.
These days, talking about cannabis should be done candidly as part of normal conversation and always be age appropriate. Calling it cannabis versus marijuana helps align it with science and talking about it as a medicinal plant helps normalize the conversation. Kids should understand that grownups / adults will be allowed to use cannabis but that it isn’t something they should try until their brains are fully formed. Science says human brains are fully formed around 25 years of age.
For the more savvy or older kids, let them know that the legal age will be 18 or specific to province – and that if they want to try it, that they should come to you first for more facts. The key is to not make it a forbidden or mysterious thing. The conversation should be as normal as telling kids to stay out of the medicine chest and not take medicine that isn’t meant for them.
KF: Any suggestions for ways to open up a dialogue (ie – ‘something is going to happen in Canada July that I want to talk to you about…’)
AS: Any opening line for a candid conversation about cannabis should be age appropriate. Any school aged child will be hearing something from their peers so starting out saying, “this year something is happening here in Canada that you might hear about at school or from your friends. Did you know that cannabis – or marijuana – is going to be made legal here? What do you know about that?”
Gauge their knowledge level, then go into a basic explanation about cannabis based on what they say they know or what you think they should know.
KF: What are some helpful ways to frame the conversation in general (ie – as a health issue, rather than a moral one, etc.)
AS: Share facts about cannabis in age-appropriate language: What it is, what it does, how adults might use it, how it isn’t appropriate for most kids, but it does help some kids with health conditions like epilepsy, Tourette’s, and autism. Find educational videos online that lay out the basics of how cannabis is medicine and why it is helpful to people from a health and wellness standpoint.
KF: Any key things you’d suggest parents NOT say when talking to kids about pot?
AS: Don’t compare cannabis to other drugs or perpetuate the myth that using cannabis leads to harder drugs. Let your kids ask any question and respond patiently and without judgement. Kids need to see that it is no “big deal” talking about cannabis with you and that you are willing and able to speak with them about it in a relaxed and open manner.
KF: In terms of setting an example, do you recommend not using pot around kids? Where do you stand on that?
AS: I think whether or not to consume cannabis in front of the kids depends on a number of factors, including their age and ability to understand what you are doing.
If you are using cannabis for health, taking the proper dosage and at the appropriate time of day or night is key depending on the relief or health benefits you’re seeking. If you’re use it as a sleep aid, for example, nighttime use after the kids are asleep makes sense. Even if you use it for de-stressing or recreation, consuming cannabis should be as normal as having a glass of wine or beer and not to be consumed in excess.
Most important: Keep your cannabis products under lock and key. Even if you have open conversations with your kids about cannabis, it should not be accessible to them regardless of their age. Invest in a lockable stash bag or box and keep it completely out of reach of younger-aged children. Stashlogix has some attractive, sturdy ones and Erbanna has some stylish ones with locks.
Some parents I know keep various cannabis accessories around their house, however, be careful if you are using glass accessories and watch out for anything combustible. All edibles should be properly marked. There’s a clever product on the market called Cannacals so you can label your cannabis edibles, whether you make or purchase them.
Overall, being healthy, happy and relaxed as a parent is a good thing, and if cannabis helps on that front, great. Regardless of how you might use cannabis, being present and clear-headed around your kids is so important. Safety first.