Aug 17, 2016 9:15 AM

Can Weed Legalization Change Children Drug Education?

Living in California, it is hard for parents to guard their children against marijuana when the green pot is on everyone's mind. There are a lot of dispensaries, medical marijuana doctors, news, and local talks, due to which kids may already know more about weed than you do. And if you have a card yourself, the herb enters your home, and you need to be super aware of what your kid might decide to do if they find it.

Unfortunately, there are a significant number of mixed messages for kids. At school, they may hear one thing, at home—completely another. The process of cannabis legalization may finally eliminate all the hiding that parents and, sometimes, kids do and provide the chance to exemplify normal behavior. Among all other things, prohibition contributes to making healthy behavior in regard to cannabis an almost unachievable goal.

Julie Holland, the author of The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis, mentions that kids are like hypocrisy detectors and that they have more understanding than we might think. The writer points out that the legalization can help each family create a model of healthy drug taking for their kids, just like many of us do with alcohol.

With the prospect of the upcoming legalization, California has an opportunity to improve the program of youth drug prevention and education both in schools and at home. This way, parents and teachers can be more open about all the benefits and side effects of marijuana.

The regulation of cannabis use for adult people is an important step forward that allows us to change the previous “drug-free world” model that turns out to be ineffective for new methods that will be more reasonable.

Jerry Otero, the director of the company Cre8tive YouTh*ink, says that current drug education is mostly based on scare tactics that concentrate on the risks of marijuana use. However, the scares do not work, and more than 40 percent of children try weed even before finishing school.

That is why more and more people understand that a frank conversation with kids about all aspects of marijuana can be more effective than constantly pointing out that weed is harmful and all people who claim that it has any positive effects are wrong. This kind of conversation does not mean that if adults are allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes, a still-developing teenage brain will also benefit from it. Holland says that adolescence can be a dangerous period to begin using drugs. What we all want for our kids is harm reduction.

Recent funding allocated by the federal government for youth drug prevention is directed at the implementation of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Prevention education. The new curriculum has to be based on evidence and research-validated.

With all possible changes that marijuana legalization in California may bring, the manager of LAUSD's health-education program, Timothy Kodric, is sure that nothing will be able to change the fact that cannabis is a drug that can have negative consequences for long-time consumers, especially when used by teenagers.

The only way to prevent children exposure to the drug is to choose a correct way for parents and teachers to inform them about the aspects of marijuana use.

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