As we fight for cannabis legalization from coast to coast, we may not realize the impact it could have on future generations. What will the world look like if, and when, recreational cannabis passes in every country? Would our offspring abuse the privilege that we fought so hard for? In lieu of cannabis’ medical benefits on adults, research suggests that the plant may negatively impact those in their teenage or young adult years. To all the parents out there, at what age will you let your child smoke cannabis?
How Does Cannabis Affect Teenagers?
In 2018, family physician Dr. Tom Bell piqued his interest in cannabis on the teenage brain to publish his evidence-based research book, Cannabis and Kids — A Primer on Pot for Parents and Caregivers.
Interestingly enough, one issue with cannabis may not stem from the plant itself, but more so how parents choose to address it with their children. If parents approach the topic of cannabis with anxiety, reluctance, or nervousness, their kids might pick up on it. This could tempt teenagers to abuse cannabis because of its “dangerous” factor.
Secondly, research suggests that cannabis could stunt brain development in teenagers, leading to an increased likelihood of mental health disorders. This finding was more likely in teenagers who had a family history of bipolar disorder, ADHD, or schizophrenia, according to Bell.
Additionally, a study performed at the University of Vermont found that youthful brains are more susceptible to the side effects of cannabis. This was initially performed on adolescent lab animals (possibly mice and rats). “The teenage brain is more plastic (ie, can change more) which is why teens can learn skills so quickly. But the downside of being so plastic is that their brains may be more susceptible to detrimental influences.”
Educating Teens On Cannabis
As Bell mentioned, the education of cannabis in a household with teenagers is key. Similarly to the “birds and bees” talk, teens need to know that cannabis exists as well as its pros and cons. We think it would be a good idea to teach cannabis in health class, alongside sex education.
According to the Independent, certain countries in Europe are more willing to address cannabis in schools than in the United States. “Cannabis is illegal in Ireland for recreational purposes, and use for medical purposes is approved on a case-by-case basis. However, there is, broadly speaking, much greater tolerance for cannabis use than there used to be, and there are valid reasons for that.”
Are Teens More Likely To Smoke Cannabis Than Adults?
Although this question is highly subjective and personal, research shows that the underage use of cannabis is down…at least in Denver, Colorado. “The survey ran from November through December 2019,” according to local news outlet 9News, “and polled 537 teens ages 13 through 18. 81% of them, between the ages of 13 and 17, said they are not current users of marijuana, compared to 80% in 2018.”
Are you shocked by the results? It could have something to do with marketing techniques and how they’ve evolved over the years. Do you remember the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign? It involved fear tactics to scare teens away from cannabis and other drugs, rather than taking the time to educate them, which was a big mistake. The “fear” of cannabis only lasts so long. Eventually, teens will become curious and try it out for themselves to see just how afraid they should be.
What’s The Right Age For A Child To Smoke Cannabis?
Honestly, we cannot give you an exact number. All parents do things differently. But from a research standpoint on brain development, 18 seems to be the appropriate age for responsible cannabis use. It never hurts starting your teen on something CBD-related and then gradually moving toward THC-based strains. In certain states, persons 18 and older can access low-THC (or trace THC) and high-CBD products for medical conditions, such as
- Anxiety/Chronic Stress
If your child has a medical condition that you believe can benefit from cannabis or CBD, please consult with a medical professional beforehand—especially if your child is already taking medication. Medical condition or not, parents and teens alike would benefit from cannabis education, both at home and in school. After reading today’s post, do you have an age in mind when you’d let your child smoke cannabis? Tell us in the comment section.