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Marijuana Is Legal Now, Right?
What if your child asks you if marijuana is legal now?
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but marijuana for medical purpose is now legal in 25 states, of which four (plus Washington, DC) have legalized it for recreational purposes.
In those four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, plus DC), you must be 21 years old to purchase, possess or use retail marijuana or marijuana products. And it is illegal to give or sell retail marijuana to minors.
The people in these states hope that by 21, they’ve given young adults enough time to make their own decision about it.
But why would states make something legal that could be harmful?
Let’s look at alcohol. It’s legal, but causes damage, including DUIs, car accidents and other behavior that leads to jail time. Alcohol can also cause major health problems, including liver problems. Cigarettes are also legal, even though they are highly addictive and proven to cause birth defects and cancer. Just because something is legal and regulated doesn’t make it safe or mean it isn’t harmful.
Mind-altering substances — including marijuana — are harmful for the still-developing teen brain. During the adolescent years, your teen is especially susceptible to the negative effects of any and all drug use, including marijuana.
Scientific evidence shows that marijuana use during the teen years could potentially lower a person’s IQ and interferes with other aspects of functioning and well-being. Even occasional use of pot can cause teens to engage in risky behavior, be taken advantage of, find themselves in vulnerable situations and make bad choices while under the influence — like combining weed and alcohol, driving while high or engaging in unsafe sex.
Note: it’s important that your child explicitly understands that you don’t approve of his use of marijuana, in the same way that you don’t want him to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use other drugs. Teenagers say that parents are the most important influence when it comes to drugs and alcohol. (They are listening to you, even though they may not show it.) That’s why it’s important to be clear about your expectations.
From Partnership for Drug-Free Kids