With marijuana becoming more widely legalized and normalized across the country, teens are asking legitimate questions and pushing back against the notion that they shouldn’t use. Perhaps you’ve heard this one before:
Marijuana is a plant. It’s natural. How harmful could it be?
This question may stop you in your tracks. After all, marijuana is a plant. Often, it is natural. So how do you respond to your teen, and still seem reasonable and credible?
First, remember that use of any substances, including marijuana, is harmful for the still-developing teen brain. This conversation is an opportunity to express love and compassion for your teen, and also point out some other plants that – yes, are natural – but can also be harmful. Try saying something like this:
“Not all plants are necessarily good or healthy for you – think about heroin, or even poison ivy.” By saying this and pointing out other natural substances or plants that are dangerous, you’re helping your teen rethink his point by utilizing knowledge you already have on hand. You can then express compassion:
“I love you and care about you so much. Plant or not, natural or not, marijuana can impair your judgment and be harmful to you at this stage in your life. I want you to be the best, healthiest version of yourself and doing marijuana, or any drug, is dangerous at your age.”
You can also ask your teen what he meant when he asked about marijuana being harmful. You could say something like: “I heard you say ‘how harmful could it be?’ What did you mean by ‘harmful?’ What does that word mean to you?” By doing this, you’re getting your teen to create his own boundaries around marijuana use. These open-ended questions are catalysts that enable the conversation to keep moving forward, and encourage openness between you and your teen.
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Related: “But YOU smoked weed when YOU were younger” and “Marijuana: finding the right words for your teen”