By Harvinder Sandhu
Desi Today talked to some youth who are already smoking pot about their reasons for taking it. Like it or not they said if their parents had informed them about the risks associated with it, they would not have done it.
It’s 2018 and time for the implementation of a controversial Liberal policy, the legalization of marijuana.
Many parents and some scientists are worried of the effects of what marijuana legalization is going to have on teens and pre-teens. Like it or not, parents need to know that many kids try pot at some point in their teen life. Studies have shown that higher percentage of Canadian teens, aged between 11 – 15, have used marijuana at least once compared to teens in the Netherlands and the states where then, pot was already legal in 2 states, Colorado and Washington, it’s also legal in California and Nevada as well now (from a 2013 United Nations Children’s Fund).
So how do we, parents of pre-teens and teens prepare ourselves come this summer when pot is legalized? Firstly, we need to educate ourselves about marijuana and its effects on the pre-teen and teen brain. Parents of teens know first hand already how difficult it is to win a fight with their teen.
The fight usually ends with, “I’m the father/mother so do as I say”. This statement does not give the parent the victory, instead it makes the kid rebel quietly. Teens will do what they want, but now they will hide from their parents. This is not good either as that can leave our kids vulnerable to other dangers as well if we don’t know what they are up to.
Advice to parents of teens, get educated first before having a conversation about marijuana with your pre-teen/teens. One thing parents need to know is that whatever behaviour or action they forbid, that itself becomes so much more appealing to their kids. Try to remember yourself at that age, did you just listen to your parents and stop doing whatever it was that you were forbidden to do?
Chances are no, or that you couldn’t at the time, but the second you had a chance, you did what you wanted regardless of parental warning. Also by educating yourself first, you now can have an educated discussion about pot and its effects with your teen. Nothing like getting all angry and bossy to drive your teen away from a discussion that may help them make the right decision regarding their life and future.
Speaking to several South Asian young adults about smoking pot, these are their thoughts on why they smoke it. First I was educated on what the new terminology of smoking pot is; teens call it smoking a reefer, and they just call it weed.
Jas D on using marijuana
Jas D: “My father drank a lot. He would get into a fight with anyone around him when he starts drinking. I didn’t want to be like that. Also, pot is safer, doesn’t make you go crazy like alcohol. We just chill back, listen to music and eat…(laughs).
DT: When did you start smoking marijuana?
Jas D.: “in grade 10… my friends were doing it.”
DT: Did your parents find out about your pot use right away?
Jas D.: Laughs… No ..,they didn’t know what I was doing at all …
DT: Do they know now?
Jas H.: No. My mom is happy that I don’t drink. She doesn’t know about this. My dad… well I can’t really talk to him about it. He doesn’t drink anymore and I’m happy for him, but I can’t really talk about this with them. Plus, they won’t understand this is safer.
DT: Yu twice said smoking pot is safer. How do you know it is safer?
Jas D: “Well … it’s not like meth or other hard drugs and it becoming legal so has to be safe”.
DT :Did you know it can effect young growing brains negatively?
Jas D: err … have not heard that … like 10 years old and stuff?
DT: Preteen and teens up to 25 years the brain is still growing. Will yo be interested in the research if you were given the info?
Jas D : I guess yeah … if my prents talked to me about the research … maybe yeah … good to know right … I mean I’ll probably still smoke but maybe less.
G S. on his reasons
DT: When did you start smoking pot?
G S. : “Last 4/20 a few months before I turned 19.”
DT: You went to the event downtown Vancouver?
G S: “No we just smoked here in Surrey. Couple of my friends smoke and have been smoking it for awhile … like since grade 10.
DT: do their parents and your parents know that you smoke?
G S: No … my parents don’t know … I think their parents have caught them because they really hide it from them. My older siblings have talked to me about it when I was much younger but not now.
DT: Why do you think it helps you focus?
G S : I was diagnosed with ADHD when in grade 1 – I never took meds as my parents thought I was too young. So when I smoke I find it helps me to concentrate more, I can put stuff better together in my head, express myself better… it helps me study.
DT : Do you know what research says on what marijuana does to young growing brains? Will you be interested to know about it?
GS : I haven’t looked into anything like that … what does it do?
DT : Research says the younger the person starts to smoke the worse it can be for their brains as it growing till about 25 years of age.
JS : I’m an adult already, grown up…laughs
DT : Have your parents talked again to you now re marijuana ?
GS : No .. I think if they catch me doing then will talk to me.. . that’s happened to my friends. They got caught and got lectured and told to stop … that’s it. That’s probably what will happen with me … that’s brown parents thing … scold and they think their kid will stop …. Laughs … we just make sure we don’t get caught again … doesn’t stop us.. .
DT: If you knew the study on how it can affect your mind negatively will this help you make better choice in the future?
GS: “Probably… if my parents got themselves educated on the subject and then talked to me I’ll probably listen to them but I don’t think it’s a brown parent thing to talk about stuff like that … they usually let it slide until they catch you doing something.
In essence the teens basically shared they have not had any meaningful conversation on the topic with their parents. As these teens noted, majority of teens’ understanding of this drug comes from their friends, and as such it can be incomplete.
If we want our teens and pre-teens to avoid marijuana, parents need to take control of the narrative by first getting educated on marijuana and its effects, and then have that crucial conversation with their children. When the “talk” comes from an educated angle, teens might be inclined to listen especially if the conversation was respectful and informative, but not if it’s all a lecture of “don’t do it” just because parents say so.
Parents need to be pro-active and the sooner they face this issue head-on the sooner they will be able to get ahead of ma potential problem and just maybe help their teens avoid marijuana use till they are much older, if ever.