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~ Organization helps parents handle changing drug landscape, Hosts Panel Discussion at Harvard Medical School ~
Boston, MA – May 5, 2015 – The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids today introduced a new resource addressing the changing marijuana landscape and the communication between parents and teens on this issue at a special event and panel discussion taking place at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Marijuana Talk Kit: What You Need to Know to Talk With Your Kids About Marijuana is a comprehensive guide that addresses the new challenges families face with their teens around the topic of marijuana, and equips parents with the tools they need to have productive conversations with their kids about the drug.
The unveiling of the Talk Kit was followed by an expert panel discussion, moderated by David Rosenbloom, Ph.D., Professor and Chair Ad Interim at Boston University. Panelists included Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, Director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School; and Heather Senior, LCSW, Parent Support Network Manager, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Also on the panel were Parent Advocate Gisele Girard and High School Senior Chiara Albanese, who will share their unique perspectives on the issue.
“Regardless of its impact on adults, we know that marijuana is extremely dangerous for the still-developing teen brain, and that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to talk to kids about this issue as the landscape changes. But with the right strategy and meaningful conversations, parents have the power to prevent use before it starts, or even curb use in its early stages,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, Interim President and CEO, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “Our new Marijuana Talk Kit was designed with parents in mind – to give them the tools they need to have productive conversations with their kids. We are excited to partner with our expert panel to introduce this new resource at Harvard Medical School.”
Marijuana Use Prevalent, Normalized Among Teenagers
Marijuana is often one of the first drugs a teen is offered, and it is becoming increasingly normalized among American youth. In fact, according to the most recent Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, 41 percent of teen smokers say they began using marijuana before the age of 15, and 78 percent of teens say that they have close friends who use marijuana.
Recent Partnership survey findings among parents and other adults found that while 40 percent of adults say they are in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, a majority of them oppose any form of legal marijuana for use among kids and teens. They believe that, like alcohol, it should only be legal for adults over the age of 21.
The survey also showed that the risks of marijuana use of greatest concern to parents are the developmental consequences for teens, and the potential impact on their children’s futures. Parents also not only expect, but demand, strict regulation of marijuana to limit its availability to kids and teens. Interestingly, when forced to choose, a majority of parents identify the number one place where it should be permissible to advertise marijuana as “nowhere.”
“The adverse effects of marijuana use in adolescence have been well-documented. Short-term consequences, which may occur with even sporadic marijuana use, include impaired short-term memory, and decreased concentration, attention span, and problem solving, which interfere with learning,” said Dr. Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, Director, Adolescent Substance Abuse Program, Children’s Hospital, Boston; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School. “Studies have suggested that regular marijuana use during the teen years is associated with an increase in mental health disorders and drop in IQ.”
Marijuana Talk Kit Addresses Changing Drug Landscape, Provides Conversation Tools for Parents
Recognizing that marijuana is being legalized in various states across the country for both recreational and medical use, that it is becoming normalized and more prevalent in pop culture and that teens are using marijuana in many new and different ways, the Partnership developed the Marijuana Talk Kit to help parents navigate these changing times and effectively respond to common questions and arguments from their teens. Inside the Kit, parents can find facts about marijuana; information on why marijuana is risky for teens; ways to talk to their teens about marijuana; what parents should – and shouldn’t say – during these conversations; how to respond to common questions and arguments from their teens; and resources that allow them to get further help if necessary.
The Marijuana Talk Kit is now available as a free download at drugfree.org/MJTalkKit.
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