September 21, 2017
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Should Parents Lie About Smoking Pot?

Posted on July 7, 2017 by in News, Parents

Pot Question

“Hey, Mom. Have you ever smoked weed?”

The only question perhaps trickier than this would include either algebra or an unwanted marriage proposal.

I kind of thought I didn’t have to worry anymore about getting asked this question. The teen questioner and I had just sat down to lunch at Plan B with his grandmother. It totally threw me off.

Years ago I remember seeing a public service advertisement by the Office of National Drug Control Policy showing a coffee mug that read “#1 Hypocrite.” The organization’s stance was that parents should not be honest about any past drug use with their children. If we are, it surmised, kids could look at our successful lives and think that using drugs won’t negatively affect their future.

Whether this is still the position of the ONDCP is unclear, despite numerous queries to the organization which shares web space with the White House. (No response to a member of the media? Shocking.)

My friends and I have been having this conversation for years. If the ONDCP says don’t fess up, I’ve said, they must know what they’re talking about. But this theory was put to the test last year when one friend’s son realized his parents weren’t telling the truth and used it against them when trying to rationalize his own drug use. Oopsie.

The D.A.R.E. anti-substance abuse program, which has been brought to classrooms since 1983 and is now in 75 percent of the country’s school districts, has had its share of criticism over the years because of questions regarding its effectiveness. But D.A.R.E. leaders listened to critics in the prevention education field and its curriculum evolved to accommodate both changing times and regional issues. They consult with members of law enforcement and know the current thinking around addiction and drug use for adolescents. At this point, I trust them.

So what’s D.A.R.E.’s stance on this question of honesty? President and CEO Frank Pegueros says we as parents should actually be truthful with our kids when talking about our past substance use.

“Children are more perceptive than we give them credit for,” says Pegueros. “It’s better to be truthful since they can usually see right through a lie. I’ve found not being truthful makes life more complicated.”

The biggest factor regarding marijuana specifically, he says, is the way the substance itself has changed since we parents were young.

“The marijuana of 2017 is a very different substance than the marijuana of 1987 or 1997,” he says. “The THC [Tetrahydrocannabinol] content is a lot higher than it used to be. Today’s marijuana is genetically engineered to be stronger.”

I know. Using the “It was OK for us but not for you” argument can go over just as well with pot as it does with wearing seat belts, riding in the back of a pick-up truck, and hitchhiking.

In addition to pot being stronger today, new studies are showing that using marijuana more than once a week affects the teenage brain in some pretty bad ways. It impairs memory and problem-solving skills. And, these same studies show that the long-term effects of smoking pot are far less detrimental if young people wait until after they turn 25.

So are you ready when and if your kiddo springs a question like this on you? Maybe drawing on scientific evidence to learn about pot and its risks together is the best approach to the shifting sands of adolescent decision making.

Whatever you do, don’t say you tried it but didn’t inhale.

[About the author:] Teresa M. Pelham is a Farmington-based writer. She is the author of three children’s books, and frequently visits schools with her therapy dog to share her message about animal rescue. Contact Teresa at [email protected]

From Hartford Courant.