The Risk of Marijuana Use in Kids and Teens
As you may know, 420 (pronounced four-twenty) is cannabis culture slang for marijuana and hashish consumption, especially smoking around the time 4:20 p.m., and cannabis-oriented events held on April 20 (or 4/20). Though marijuana consumption is legal for adults 21 years and older, it is important to consider what responsible adult-use looks like and how families can talk to adolescents about marijuana.
The Youth Marijuana Prevention program at Spokane Regional Health District works to provide resources to the community by educating marijuana retailers, parents, and youth leadership on the law and potential harms to children and youth. Although most youth report not using marijuana, those that do have higher use rates that can be associated with health inequities and disparities. The work of this program is important as marijuana use among youth is not safe and can cause long-term impacts to the developing brain, can cause an increased risk of addiction, and can have many social and legal consequences.
Youth Education and Prevention
Parents and other caring adults talking to kids about marijuana use is important and can help prevent them from using substances. Parents' and caregivers' attitudes toward substance use help shape kids' choices and behaviors. In fact, the more youth believe marijuana use is acceptable, , the higher likelihood they will use marijuana. For resources on how to start the conversation, visit Weed to Know and Start Talking Now.
Consider investing in a safe storage box. These locking boxes can be found online and act as a safe for marijuana, medication or anything else you may want to keep out of reach of children and pets. If marijuana is ingested by a child, they may need emergency medical help. Signs of accidental ingestion include problems walking or sitting up, difficulty breathing, and becoming sleepy. If you believe a child has ingested marijuana, contact the Washington Poison Center at 800.222.1222 or call 911.
For resources or help with a teen that is already using, visit the Washington Recovery Help Line for 24-hour emotional support or call 866.789.1511.
Laws and Policies
Recreational marijuana use is legal for adults ages 21 and up in Washington state. However, to be a good role model for the children in your life, there are still local, state and federal laws that are important to follow. It’s important to know that driving while under influence, consuming in public or providing marijuana to a minor is against the law and can result in fines or prison sentences.