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Preventing Underage Marijuana Use

Key Messages and Talking Points for Parents

  • Marijuana is not a harmless drug for teens. The teen brain is still developing, and marijuana may cause abnormal brain development.

  • Marijuana is linked to school failure. Because the teen brain is still developing, marijuana has a negative effect on attention, motivation, memory and learning. Students who use marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of school.

  • Teens are at higher risk for addiction. Because the teen brain is still developing, early use of marijuana is more likely to lead to addiction, compared to those who wait until they are adults. Teens that use marijuana regularly may also develop serious mental health disorders such as depression and psychosis.

  • Know the risks and teach your teens. The good news – when teens know how drugs can harm them, their use goes down. The bad news – fewer students see marijuana use as risky. According to the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey, Sherburne County students were least likely to believe that people put themselves at risk of harm by smoking marijuana.

  • Most teens are making healthy choices. Although teens think everyone is using marijuana, the fact is that most teens don’t. When teens know that not using marijuana is the norm, they are more likely to “fit in” with the crowd by not using it.

  • If your child asks you directly whether you have used marijuana, a brief, honest answer may help the child feel comfortable talking with you about drug use issues. However, it is best to not share your own histories of drug use with your children. Rather, discussion of drug use scenarios, in general, may be a more helpful approach.

  • You are role models for your children, and actions speak louder than words. So if you use marijuana in front of your teens, they are more likely to use it themselves, regardless of whether you tell them not to.

  • You are the most powerful influence in your child’s life. Even when children reach their teen years, they still care about what parents say. If your teen knows you don’t approve of drug use, they won’t want to disappoint you. Talk early and often about the risks, set clear rules against drug use, and enforce reasonable consequences for breaking the rules. Get tips for talking with your teens at

  • Take action if you think your teen is using marijuana. There are numerous resources, many right in your community, where you can get information to help you talk to your children about drugs. Consult your local school, healthcare facility, or community service organization. Get contact information for local agencies at​

Sources: 2016 Minnesota Student Survey; National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA]

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