By Krista Sherinian, LCSW
Some advocates of legalized cannabis worry about how legalization is playing out in the states — with concerns that a “Big Marijuana” industry may be able to market cannabis irresponsibly, as tobacco, alcohol, and opioid companies have already done . And while marijuana is nowhere as risky as these other legal drugs, it still poses risks — notably, vaping induced seizures, psychotic breaks, lung collapse, and addiction. Give the potential hazards associated with excessive marijuana use, parents need to be more vigilant than ever regarding the health risks for their adolescent children.
Parents are advised to use opportunities such as watching movies or the news with their children to bring up the topic of marijuana. Parents can ask their opinion about the matter, and if they know of kids at their school that have tried it or are using joints, blunts or the vape pens to smoke it. It can be easier to talk in a low-key manner when you are in the car or doing an activity such as playing cards, basketball or preparing a meal. Parents should avoid moralizing and lectures which often turn off teens and reduce the odds that they will come to them for future information or guidance on the matter.
Some teens have been misinformed by their friends that it is “no big deal” or that it is “organic and natural” or that “vaping is more safe than smoking cigarettes of nicotine or joints of marijuana.” We recommend doing a Google search to know what the chargers and vape accessories look like. The charger is similar to a USB device with a small metal coil where the vape pen screws in. The vape pen supplies a lower dose of THC, the substance that makes marijuana addictive and produces the high. The dab pen provides a much more concentrated dose that increases the risk of serious side effects such as lung collapse, seizures, and a psychotic break. Some teens use cannabis in oil form poured over gummy candies.
Legal marijuana is often expensive given the taxes added. Sometimes teens will then resort to travel to unsafe areas to buy pot more cheaply from gang members who may expose them to random violent encounters. Some towns refuse to allow its sale, while the towns that do approve its sale, strictly check state IDs so that all buyers are age 21 or older. For this reason, parents can approach this risk similar to how they would for older friends of their children who may offer to buy the product for parties or use fake IDs. If your teen has been caught using drugs, it is wise to closely monitor their cellphones using parental control apps, GPS trackers, and random room searches. Pharmacies carry inexpensive drug testing urine kits that use a dipstick.
For more information on how to better help your teen face challenges associated with marijuana use and peer pressure, contact Dunham Counseling today at (630) 799-0100. Our expert counselors have specialty training in dual-disorder and addiction treatment. We offer adolescent and family counseling. We also offer a brain rebalancing technology called Cereset (Cereset.com) that promotes higher energy, better mood, enhanced sleep, greater stress resilience, and better thinking ability.