Using Cannabis with Teens in the Home


Using Cannabis with Teens in the Home


It’s a comment I hear more than I’d like: “Well, I want to try cannabis for my pain and sleep issues, but I have teens in the home.”
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Anybody with kids knows that there are plenty of subjects that we’d like to be more open about, but we just aren’t sure where to draw the line. A big part of parenting is erring on the side of caution, after all.

One of the most important aspects of my role as a cannabis consultant is working to dispel the stigma around it. So, as we consider the topic of using cannabis with teens in the home, let’s consider some historical context. The main reason that I never use the word “marijuana” is that it is rooted in racism. Creating a stigma around cannabis was the main strategy of the government for the purpose of instituting inhumane criminal justice policies toward African-Americans and Mexicans and protecting the Hearst newspaper and DuPont nylon monopolies.(1)

Consider: Before alcohol was made illegal through prohibition in 1919, cannabis was a very common ingredient in many medicines. Up until then, cannabis was a trusted home remedy in virtually every culture over the course of centuries. As is commonly known, it was also a major crop in the United States – even George Washington grew it! 

Prohibition of alcohol was repealed in 1933 and soon thereafter, with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, cannabis was outlawed by the federal government. The use of the term “marijuana,” along with blatantly racist images of drugged-out Mexicans, was a major propaganda tool used to pass this law. Many of us remember movies like “Reefer Madness,” which ridiculously portrayed cannabis as a dangerous narcotic that would immediately ruin lives. 

Fast-forward to present day, with the country struggling through a massive opioid epidemic and nearly 100,000 people per year dying of alcohol-related causes. Ask yourself: Would we be better off if more people used cannabis to treat anxiety, depression and pain, versus alcohol or pharmaceuticals?

Thankfully, things are changing. State after state is legalizing cannabis as more and more research continues to demonstrate the many health benefits of cannabinoids. So, the question is, if you feel that cannabis could be more beneficial to you than other prescription drugs or other substances, and it is legal in your state, why should you be uneasy about doing so simply because you have teens in the home? The answer to that question is probably the continuing stigma that is rooted in racism and corporate greed.A close up of a newspaperDescription automatically generated

I have three teens at home myself, so I know first-hand that it can be very difficult to talk about certain things with our kids. And I know about the struggle involved with living what I know to be a healthy and authentic life while worrying how my children will interpret – or misinterpret – my choices and actions. 

Here’s what I recommend: First, consider your own health and well-being. Obviously, we will all be better parents if we’re healthier, sleeping better, experiencing less pain, and using fewer pharmaceuticals and less alcohol. Can we all agree on that? 

Second, have a similar conversation with your kids about cannabis that you probably already had with them about alcohol. It is a medicine that is also used recreationally, that can have both beneficial and negative effects, depending how and why it is used. Third, tell them that cannabis is legal in your state and that research has shown it has many beneficial effects when used thoughtfully according to the advice and direction of an expert. You can tell them that if they were ever sick you would consider every possible remedy to help them feel better and become healthier – and that you need to do the same thing for yourself. 

As parents, many of us have a lot of fears about worst-case scenarios with our kids. They eat too much or not enough. They are too social or not social enough. They are too focused on academic accomplishments or they don’t have enough motivation. The same holds true with cannabis. Many of us have a mental image (often rooted in racism and misinformation) of cannabis associated with underprivileged communities and crime. It is time we realign our perception of cannabis based on reality – it is a medicine, and every human has an endocannabinoid system. When used responsibly, it is a lot healthier than most junk food, pharmaceuticals, media content, etc! 
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Aside from everything stated above, it is always a good thing when we are honest and open with our children. Perpetuating the stigma around cannabis could also have very negative effects on your children later in life, when they themselves might need help with pain relief, or sleep disorders, or issues with anxiety or depression. Personally, I would rather have my children experiment with cannabis as opposed to opioids or alcohol. That’s why I’m open and honest with them about it.

Some of my most rewarding consultations are with parents and their teens – or adults and their older parents – about destigmatizing cannabis and really considering the healthiest options for treating issues around well-being. I’d be happy to meet with you and your family members to help broach this sometimes awkward subject! Contact me at