Legalized Marijuana Means New Conversations For Parents, Teens

Photo Credit: Civilized

A local coalition of educators and doctors are preparing to launch a new campaign about talking to kids about legal pot.

“They’re just like, well, I can do it to fit in. And it’ll make me seem popular,” said Destiny Ferguson.

When her high school friends began using marijuana, she says their friendship went up in smoke too.

“I lost a couple friends—they just changed. They weren’t in the right mindset,” she said.

She says her friends acted violently or anti-social. But that’s when Destiny turned her anger into action.

She joined an Instagram photo contest called “Too Smart To Start.” Kids post a picture and declare themselves “drug-free.” Then they get involved.

“I want to see it affect people,” she said referring to her efforts.

Destiny now leads a “marijuana focus group” with high school students.

They’re working on developing a first of its kind cannabis campaign for high schools around the Sacramento area. It’ll target both teens and parents.

“We want to really encourage parents, talk to your kids, ask them what they know,” said Joelle Orrock, a prevention coordinator with the Sacramento County Department of Education.

She says using kids to craft the message makes sense, citing a recent study that finds marijuana use among teens is on the rise—24 percent of students surveyed said they used pot in 2017, up 1.3 percent from 2016.

“I think that kids don’t understand that what’s been legalized is dangerous for them and they don’t have all the information,” said Orrock.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommendations on what that information should include.

According to the guidelines, parents should tell their teens that marijuana is not a benign drug.

And can cause abnormal brain development, and affect memory, concentration and functioning skills.

For Destiny, it’s about getting her peers to understand that just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s OK.

The campaign is set to launch in spring.