Dear Stoner: I drive around town with my seven-year-old, and I know it is only a matter of time before he starts asking me about the "MMJ" signs everywhere. How should I talk to my kid about pot, since it is always in his face these days?
Mad Over Marijuana
Dear Mad: I don't think the consumption of marijuana is any more in your child's face than any other adult activity, namely the consumption of alcohol. Pot just stands out more because it's not the norm yet. But think about how many times you've walked past a table full of liquor at a restaurant with your kid in tow: Junior is taking that in just as he is pot dispensary signs.
We're of the opinion that cannabis use in this country is only going to become more commonplace. Eventually, we'll regard it the way we do alcohol, cigarettes, gambling and other "vices" reserved for adults. Yes, there are parents who openly rally against all of those things – but for the most part, parents don't think twice about taking kids to an outdoor cafe where people are drinking or smoking, and there's been no massive push to ban driving through Black Hawk. You don't have to endorse these vices, but they aren't going away anytime soon.
Now, to answer your question: The best way to talk with your kid is to simply talk with your kid. There's no need to find the right angle or wait for him to ask questions. Make it an ongoing discussion, and keep in mind that kids can and do learn that certain activities are adult activities and some are for kids.
Will some kids abuse marijuana as they grow older and start pushing boundaries? Sure. But they'll do that whether pot is legal or illegal, just as teens have done for decades. We advise setting a good example, much as millions of parents do every day with alcohol. They don't tell their children that alcohol is bad and to never touch it. They explain that it is for adults, then model the way to consume it in a responsible manner. My father used to have me get him a beer every day after work. Did I turn into a raging alcoholic? No. Instead, I was taught that alcohol was something for adults to use and for children to stay away from. The same can be true of pot — though we don't suggest that you have Junior grab your bong for you when you get home. (Child-endangerment drug laws are still in place.)
Talk with a level head, and abandon the War on Drugs propaganda, even if you don't agree with the use of marijuana personally. Explain that there's a time and a place for responsible consumption — and note that people can become too consumed by cannabis, just as they can by sex, booze, food, gambling, Beanie Baby collecting — you name it.