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Real talk for parents – Cannabis and your kids

mom and son

As various forms of Cannabis have been made available around the country, Fremont County Prevention and WASCOP encourage families, schools and communities to have honest and educated conversations about the risks associated with using Cannabis.

For the purpose of this discussion, Cannabis can be broken down into four categories. This includes FDA-approved prescriptions, Hemp products, CBD products and Marijuana products.

In Wyoming,

What is legal: FDA approved Cannabis related prescriptions are available by written script from a license practitioner for Epidiolex, Dranabinol (Marinol or Syndros) and Nabilone (Cesamet). Hemp-related products that contain 0.03% or less of THC. What is illegal: Marijuana products that contain 0.03% or higher of THC. What is Uncertain: CBD Products – FDA Rules on consumption have yet to be determined.

“When it comes to Cannabis, there’s a lot to talk about,” Tauna Groomsmith, Fremont County Prevention Director said.

“It is important to understand and know the various forms that Cannabis products come in, the potential benefit vs risk as well as any potential legal issues. That’s what we want families to talk about.”

Groomsmith understands that having these tough conversations can be challenging for parents and caregivers. Occasionally the adult having the conversation may have used various forms of cannabis without any repercussions, but it’s the two-sided nature of this issue that makes it even more important to discuss. As a parent, be sure to educate yourself so you have a fact-based response to speaking with your child. There are lots of great educational sites, including wywetalk.org that teach parents about the dangers and help guide them through communicating with their children.

“Some parents have a hard time telling kids not to use marijuana, because they’ve used it themselves,” WASCOP Prevention and Education Director Rhea Parsons said. But she encourages parents and caregivers to consider the differences between today’s marijuana and the one from the 70s. Today’s marijuana has changed with THC concentration making it significantly higher than it used to be. What used to be a 3% THC content in a rolled joint, is now a thing of the past. Now it comes in the form of a marijuana product with an average THC content of 20% on up to 90%.

For all generations, substance use at a young age is a gamble since the human brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25. Marijuana contains mind-altering chemicals, which makes addiction and other long-term consequences more likely.

The good news, most Fremont County students make the healthy and smart decision to avoid using substances including marijuana. In a survey (2020 Prevention Needs Assessment) given to youth in 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grades, 72% of students have never used marijuana. But 35% of students say it would be sort of easy or very easy to get some if they wanted to. 87% of parents think it’s wrong or very wrong for their kids to use marijuana.

“While using marijuana products may or may not lead to an immediate consequence, the long-term effects need to be considered,” Parsons said.

“Kids need to be aware of those risks and families need to talk about them.”

Common questions for parents to consider:

Is there an increased risk of mental health issues?

Marijuana use has been linked to depression and anxiety, which can lead to suicidal thoughts.

What if marijuana is used only once or twice a month? Students are:

4x more likely to skip class 4x less likely to complete their homework Less likely to graduate More likely to have lower grades More likely to have lower satisfaction with life Less likely to enroll in college if they do graduate More likely to be unemployed

Does it increase the chance of driving accidents?

YES! Driving under the influence of marijuana can DOUBLE the risk of an automobile accident in young drivers.

Starting these conversations can be difficult, but Parsons said to be honest, open and even vulnerable. If you’re comfortable, start by sharing your own stories or just asking your kids what they’re thinking. Even decades apart, they’re likely shared experiences. And regardless of personal feelings towards marijuana, it remains illegal in Wyoming and will always be illegal for kids.

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