Cannabis has been welcomed into the mainstream cultural and societal zeitgeist, and that is leaving the newer generations of parents with some questions, especially considering their own drug educations. NPR recently discussed the shift in formal drug education from a theme of warding kids and teens off of cannabis completely, to one of delaying what is now a legal practice in many states. Since so many young parents consume cannabis, it is important for kids to understand why it’s only okay for mom and dad, and why they should wait to try it. If cannabis supporters don’t want to return to potential criminalization again, we need to ensure future generations are acting responsibly, so it only benefits us for the public to be totally educated. We don’t want to perpetuate the harms of cannabis.
In California, substance abuse prevention focuses on critical thinking and making informed choices instead of pressured abstinence. If you live in a state still woefully operating under harshly criminalized drug laws, or obsolete education plans similar to DARE, there are outside resources for you!
Being Adept https://www.beingadept.org/ is the curriculum mentioned by NPR that is being used by 20 schools in San Francisco. It stresses science and the benefits of waiting to try substances, and does so in a totally modern way. Not only do they address marijuana, alcohol, opioids, nicotine, and stimulants, but E-cigarettes, media literacy, stress and decision making. Being out of school for nearly a decade, it is refreshing to see current plans like this reflecting what is actually happening in the world, whereas I felt my drug education told me “no,” without any other information. Being Adept is a great starting point for parents seeking to communicate better with their kids, and has downloads of materials available on their site for families unable to enroll.
Be The Influence https://www.betheinfluence.us/ is a nonprofit parenting organization anyone can join that seeks to delay substance use among youths. Joining the community offers parents a pledge, weekly newsletters with various tips, a directory of members to find peers locally, and a forum to get talk with all members. Advice readily available on the site includes excellent nuggets like acknowledging the limits of your authority, or taking advantage of “teachable moments.” It provides easy to digest data and statistics on usage, education videos, and events to attend.
SAM, or Smart Approaches to Marijuana https://learnaboutsam.org/ has lots of high quality, downloadable studies, videos, and presentations to give you all the information you need and didn’t realize you needed on cannabis. I think this is a great organization because it goes into niche issues that may not be covered in education programs that are focused on child development. Issues like marijuana effects on the environment, insurance, and driving. Their comparison of Big Marijuana claims and known science is a great page for creating awareness about many of the defensive conceptions of cannabis use. I like the direct and neutral presentation of these facts, without attacking or being defensive.
Hopefully visiting these sites will make you feel prepared to take on challenging family discussions about substances.