Barnstable County Issues Marijuana Brief to Educate Parents

BARNSTABLE – As medical marijuana comes to Cape Cod and the state works on recreational pot shop guidelines, Barnstable County officials are ramping up information for parents.

The Department of Human Services last week issued its sixth publication related to substance abuse.

“Marijuana Use and Parenting: What You Need to Know” is designed to give parents information on how to effectively guide teens and young adults on the topic of marijuana use.

“This is a very confusing time for parents in an age of legal marijuana use.  It’s important that we give parents the information and tools they need to reduce the risks to teens and young adults when their brains are still developing,” said Beth Albert, Director at the Barnstable County Department of Human Services and co-chair of the Regional Substance Abuse Council.  

The issue brief, along with data and resources for substance use prevention, is available on the Barnstable County Department of Human Services webpage.

According to data provided by the county, youth who regularly use marijuana have challenges learning, memory problems and anxiety and depression.

Experts say that teens who use pot also increase their risk of addition to the drug and other substances later in life.

Medical professionals say marijuana interferes with healthy brain development.

For parents who use marijuana, the experts suggest they store it where it is not accessible for children and teens and to not smoke inside your home or around their children.

Parents who use are also urged to be prepared for their kids to ask why they can’t use the drug as well.

The potency of marijuana has also spiked in the last couple of decades threefold.

“It’s not the same pot that parents grew up with. It really is important for parents to understand some of these facts. They need to understand that it is illegal for anyone under 21,” said Barnstable County Substance Use Prevention Project Specialist Kim Slade.

County officials are calling for stronger messaging to parents about the dangers the drug can pose to a young child.

“They (parents) also need to know how they can talk to their kids if they suspect they are using,” said Slade.

Many of the questions coming from parents to the experts revolve around how to respond if a parent smokes and their kids ask why it’s okay for them.

“Kids want facts and that’s the most important thing that a parent can give their kids – an education and information about marijuana,” said Slade.

Their data indicates that 80 percent of parents who use the drug oppose the use around their kids.

Key Topics Covered in the new publication:

  • The increased potency of present-day marijuana;
  • Importance of youth abstinence and/or delay in use to avert damage to developing brains;
  • Evidence suggesting the increase in likelihood of addiction in adulthood when marijuana is consumed during adolescence;
  • Evidence-based information that considers the high-level influence parents have on a teen’s decision to use marijuana;
  • Guidance on when and how to effectively interact with teens and young adults who are using marijuana;
  • Best practices for parents who are legally using marijuana in the home. 

By MATT PITTA, News Director


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