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Drug education shouldn't be off the table during 4/20 Day

4/20 Day celebrations are popular across the state; if you are partaking in the festivities, California will have it all. Cannabis has been legal for adults in the state since 2016 and is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol.

Like alcohol it has become quite mainstream, and it remains a popular drug for many young people. Because of social media, 4/20 Day can be sensationalized much the same as drug and alcohol use is on social media platforms.

Parents and educators can have a positive impact on children and students with drug education about cannabis. This shouldn’t be off the table during 4/20 as it can help answer some of the questions children may have.

A study by UC Davis Health found that teens who have more demand for cannabis, are willing to use more when it’s free, spend more overall to obtain it, and are likely to use it for enjoyment and to use it to cope. Cannabis continues to remain the most used psychoactive substance among adolescents.

Drug education and speaking about cannabis can be done anytime. For example, keep the conversations age appropriate. Speaking with a five-year-old is much different than speaking with a teenager. Use language and examples a child or teen would understand. Teach them about the dangers and what to avoid.

Put yourself in your kid's shoes. This can be especially important for teenagers as they face different social pressures and situations. Make a point of understanding what they are up against.

When speaking to them about cannabis, stay calm and relaxed, stay positive, don’t lecture, and be clear and concise about rules and boundaries. It’s ok to set rules, guidelines, and expectations; create rules together as a family or class. Parents and educators can be clear about the consequences without using scare tactics or lecturing; clearly state what you expect regarding cannabis use.

Choose informal times to have conversations about cannabis, and do not make a big thing about it. Yet, continue talking to them as they age, and let them know you are always there for them.

Most importantly, speak to them about peer pressure and talk with them about having an exit plan when they are offered marijuana. Peer pressure is powerful among youth, and having a plan to avoid drug use helps children and students make better choices.

Ultimately, it is about helping them make good choices as they age. Educators and parents can positively impact the choices of children and students and drug education remains the best option.

Marcel Gemme is the founder of SUPE and has been helping people struggling with substance use for over 20 years. His work focuses on a threefold approach: education, prevention, and rehabilitation.


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