Talking to Youth About Marijuana
By: Jessica Bickford
It is widely known that Act 86, which legalizes possession of marijuana by adults, takes effect on July 1st. In my work with Healthy Lamoille Valley, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with community partners and there is an overwhelming concern for our youth as this law increases opportunities for youth access to marijuana. With this in mind, I want to share a few well-vetted resources to help youth, parents and community members.
What are we talking about? The first step in understanding the impacts of marijuana is to understand the drug. This site from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens is particularly helpful and is designed be shared with your teen. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana
How do we talk to youth about it? Talking with youth can feel difficult. Parentupvt is a great tool that provides sound advice and suggestions: http://parentupvt.org/how-can-i-help-prevent-it/talk-about-it. They also have infographics on marijuana: http://parentupvt.org/resources/infographics.
On the evening of June 5th, the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department, Healthy Lamoille Valley, and Blueprint for Health are partnering with area middle and high school students to share a community forum: “Effective Communication with Youth.” Learn more at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/3rd-annual-opiate-forum-presents-communicating-effectively-with-youth-tickets-45909426330.
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has a Youtube tutorial with communication tips for parents: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FThKH0SEDeI
What are the guidelines around use and storage of marijuana? As with any legal drug, including alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, and soon to be marijuana, we all have a role to play in safe, responsible storage and use. Act 86 provides very specific details on how and where adult use marijuana can be used and stored, as well as the quantities an individual can possess. In a nutshell, Act 86 only allows for use in a home residence, with some restrictions. Users are responsible to keep it away from anyone under the age of 21. (In fact, providing marijuana to minors has the same penalties as providing alcohol to a minor – up to a $2,000 fine and up to 5 years of prison time, per minor.) Those who have it or grow it are required to keep it secure where children and youth cannot access it, meaning locked up and out of sight. Users are not to drive impaired. Marijuana cannot legally be sold. https://legislature.vermont.gov/assets/Documents/2018/Docs/ACTS/ACT086/ACT086%20As%20Enacted.pdf
What do you need to know about marijuana and pregnancy? We know that alcohol and tobacco can cause some serious risks and complications to unborn children. It’s logical that marijuana can have risks as well. Check out more information at https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/pdf/Marijuana-Pregnancy-508.pdf
How can I learn more and do more to prevent youth use? Healthy Lamoille Valley is working with Michelle Salvador at the Vermont Department of Health to host a community evening in June. Watch Healthy Lamoille Valley’s website for emerging details! Join us as we review the implications of Act 86 and then break into interest groups (parents, youth, educators, landlords, employers, etc.) to explore how we can prevent youth use and support area children and families.
Looking for more resources?
CDC Marijuana Use and Teens: https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/pdf/Marijuana-Teens-508.pdf
CDC Marijuana Use and Driving: https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/pdf/Marijuana-Driving-508.pdf
SAMSHA’s Marijuana Page: https://www.samhsa.gov/atod/marijuana
Vermont’s Marijuana Impact Assessment: http://www.healthvermont.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2016/12/ADAP_HIA_Marijuana_Regulation_in_Vermont_Exec_Summary.pdf
Our partners at Mount Ascutney Hospital created a good summary of Act 86 legalization. If you would like a copy please send your request to Jessica@healthylamoillevalley.org.
Jessica Bickford has worked as Coordinator of Healthy Lamoille Valley for a little over two years, where she has enjoyed writing for their blog. Writing for Copley’s community blog is a natural extension of this experience! Healthy Lamoille Valley focuses on making healthy choices easy choices, realizing that when we have access to healthy options we are less likely to choose behaviors that are harmful. Prevention is really a lifestyle of wise choices that enable us to live life to the fullest.
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