Awkward Conversations go Better With Facts.

Awkward Conversations go Better With Facts.

Awkward Conversations go Better With Facts.

Medical and adult-use cannabis stores are popping up all over Muskegon County and are likely to be more common in the future.

Public Health-Muskegon County (PHMC) wants you to understand the facts about cannabis.

We’re not here to scare you, or to encourage cannabis consumption—we want to provide facts and verified scientific information about the effect of the plant on the human body and brain.

We know that cannabis helps people with a variety of health issues, and we also know that marijuana doesn’t help the developing brains of young people. Because of the legal consequences, we also discourage use until 21 years of age.

Are you wondering how to start talking about cannabis with young people? Here are some ideas.

Ask open-ended questions.

Tell me what you know about cannabis allows a young person to educate you. We often say “kids are smarter than we think,” and this gives them the opportunity to shine. Just make sure you don’t judge them if they know more than expected. Take the opportunity to confirm their knowledge, correct them if needed, and provide information that you find helpful and interesting.

Welcome, don’t judge their curiosity.

When kids ask questions about challenging topics like cannabis, assume the best about their interests and intentions and help by answering questions as you’re able and providing accurate information. Take time to direct them to news sources and websites that you trust and look and learn together.

PHMC surveyed Michigan parents who consume cannabis, and 80 percent of them make an effort to keep out of reach, lock, or hide marijuana from young people in the household. These parents also mention they have conversations about cannabis use with young people in their homes. As one parent said: “Knowledge is power. Yes, hide it and lock it but educating children is most important.”

Encourage them to talk.

When talking about serious topics like cannabis use, it’s essential to encourage ongoing conversations by letting them know you are interested in what they have to say, whether you agree with them or not.

PHMC surveyed Michigan parents who consume cannabis, and 80 percent of them make an effort to keep out of reach, lock, or hide marijuana from young people in the household. These parents also mention they have conversations about cannabis use with young people in their homes. As one parent said: “Knowledge is power. Yes, hide it and lock it but educating children is most important.”

Find a time that feels right.

Use a trigger or visual prompt for the conversation. A TV or radio news story about cannabis, passing by a dispensary in the car, or an encounter with someone you know that consumes might help give you a reason to talk about it. 

Admit it when you don’t know the answer.

Young people appreciate honesty and vulnerability in adults. Admitting you don’t have all the answers allows you and the young person to explore alternatives and revisit the conversation. Use the opportunity to each do your research and talk about what you’ve learned. Teens have information sources that differ from adults (social media, for instance), and this also provides an opportunity to talk about reliable information.

PHMC surveyed Michigan parents who consume cannabis, and 80 percent of them make an effort to keep out of reach, lock, or hide marijuana from young people in the household. These parents also mention they have conversations about cannabis use with young people in their homes. As one parent said: “Knowledge is power. Yes, hide it and lock it but educating children is most important.”

Experience matters.

It’s good to be able to express your own cannabis experience to your kids. Plan to talk about your personal cannabis experience—positive or negative or neutral with your kids. Let them know if, when, and why you consumed cannabis. It will increase your credibility, and your own experience will help them further trust your judgment and views.

PHMC surveyed Michigan parents who consume cannabis, and 80 percent of them make an effort to keep out of reach, lock, or hide marijuana from young people in the household. These parents also mention they have conversations about cannabis use with young people in their homes. As one parent said: “Knowledge is power. Yes, hide it and lock it but educating children is most important.”

FAQs About Cannabis and Young Brains.

The teen years are a critical time in life. Teens experience many changes that affect their adult health and wellness. Some of these changes are physical, but many are behavioral. Because so many changes take place at this time, teens sometimes engage in risky (unprotected) sex, over or under eating, and bad sleep habits. The growth of a teen’s brain is affected by genes, hormones, and home and social life.

Since a teenager’s brain is not fully mature, it may be difficult for them to make the right decisions. Poor decision-making can lead to harmful behaviors such as reckless driving, petty crime, or unprotected sex. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a leading cause of death among teens is injury and violence related to sex and substance abuse—like alcohol or drugs.

Is there a connection between cannabis and mental illness?

Some studies confirm that cannabis can trigger and/or amplify psychotic disorders. Frequency of use, use at a young age, product potency, and use of synthetic marijuana may affect this. Some recent research shows an increase in the risk of mania and suicidal thoughts, depending on the frequency of use. The effect of cannabis on depression and anxiety are less clear. Some studies show that depression and anxiety can lead to greater cannabis consumption. Family genes play a role in the risk of developing a mental disorder with cannabis use. If mental illness runs in your family, be aware of the risk.

Does cannabis use impact grades and behavior?
Research on memory, decision-making, and thought-processing speed suggests poor performance and inefficient processing in some chronic, heavy cannabis users. These changes are obvious in people who began using cannabis at a young age, because of the critical development of the brain at this time. The frequency of marijuana use, product choice and potency, and age of the consumer are all likely to influence the effects of cannabis on the developing brain.

Based on independent measures of school performance (annual teacher ratings using national data and high school dropout records), the findings clearly show that most adolescents who used marijuana had a worse academic performancethan those who did not. Low study skills, attention problems, and learning problems were present even when marijuana use was infrequent.

To learn more, visit https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16929274/

We also thought this TEDtalk about teen brain development was fascinating.

Why should I hide or lock my cannabis?
Like any other medicine in your home, it’s up to you to keep cannabis away from kids. Some studies show an increase in accidental child poisonings from cannabis with medical and adult-use legalization. While cannabis edibles are sold in child-proof packages, we know that curious teens won’t be deterred! Youth often start consuming cannabis and other substances by taking it from an adult family member. Rarely are teens able to buy these products legally or on their own because of cost and minor sale laws. 

PHMC surveyed Michigan parents who consume cannabis, and 80 percent of them make an effort to keep out of reach, lock, or hide marijuana from young people in the household. These parents also mention they have conversations about cannabis use with young people in their homes. As one parent said: “Knowledge is power. Yes, hide it and lock it but educating children is most important.”