Parenting in the age of legal pot: Household rules, conversations help guide teen use

When Washington voters legalized marijuana in 2012, many parents found themselves with a new teachable moment .

Though illegal for anyone under 21, the drug presented a dilemma similar to alcohol: Retailers sold it, people openly consumed it - sometimes to excess - and parents themselves struggled with how to talk to their kids about their own use, past or present.

Unlike with alcohol, research on the health and developmental effects of marijuana is still emerging. And the law’s complexity, along with the accessibility of marijuana products and stores, has left parents thinking more deliberately about how and why to set some ground rules.

Most parents agree that marijuana should be off-limits to children and teenagers, but they want information and advice from trustworthy sources, said Nicole Eisenberg , a research scientist with the University of Washington’s Social Development Research Group. Those findings come from a study published online Jan. 16 in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, by Eisenberg and a team of researchers.

"What I heard a lot of parents saying is, essentially, ’I can tell my kids not to use it, but I just don’t know how to enforce and reinforce that message,’" Eisenberg said. "Parents are having a hard time reconciling societal norms with personal norms. Society has become more permissive, but at home, most parents don’t want their children to use marijuana. It’s a challenge that leaves them feeling like they don’t know what to do."


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