How to talk to your kids about marijuana


by KING 5 HealthLink

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 6:26 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 1 at 6:26 PM

With pot retail stores about to open, local doctors are even more concerned about underage use. One local doctor suggests talking to your kids about marijuana.

Parents, be careful how you talk to your kids about marijuana  Just ask Seattle Children’s Dr. Leslie Walker, who’s heard the flip side of those conversations

“Kids say, well marijuana, well my parents think marijuana is OK, I shouldn’t do heroin. That’s not the message you want to give kids,” said Dr. Walker.

She says the message needs to be clear and consistent.

“Just like parents should be doing with alcohol. This is not safe for you at this stage in your life. It can possible cause permanent damage to you as an adolescent with developing brain. I do not want you to use marijuana at this time,” said Dr. Walker.

And that’s the biggest concern: harm to the still developing brain.

“We even know from the research you can lose up to seven I.Q. points permanently if you begin to use as a young person and continue.”

And what about those edibles?

“Sometimes kids actually thinks it’s safer because, well I’m not smoking, so it’s OK , but it’s still affecting the brain in the same way,” said Dr. Walker.

Worse yet, unlike smoking pot, ingesting it has a delayed effect, up to an hour. The temptation is to take more.

“We’ve had kids have to go into the psychiatric ward. We’ve had to admit them with excessive vomiting, with paranoia, with hallucinations,” said Dr. Walker.

Dr. Walker worries about the misconception that pot is somehow safer than alcohol.

“For somebody who becomes dependent on a drug, there is no safe drug. It’s not any safer to be dependent on marijuana as it is one alcohol. They both take you down, they both devastate your family and they can change your life,” said Dr. Walker.

Dr. Walker says the only difference is that marijuana is slower and sneakier than some of the other mind altering substances out there.

Dr. Walker has co-authored a guide for parents called The Parent’s Guide to Prevent Underage Marijuana with Seattle Children’s.