PHOTO BY: Nick Oza/The Republic
In today’s world, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether you use Cannabis medicinally or recreationally, what matters is that you partake in the plant. Cannabis use being a part of someone’s lifestyle is usually not a big deal, that is unless they have children. Parents who use cannabis live with a sense of fear about their lifestyle choice, or medicinal choices leading to persecution. Generally a parent hides their Cannabis use from their children, with hopes that the child doesn’t know and therefore will not let it slip that mommy or daddy smokes pot; because pot is a three letter word that leads to another three letter word, CPS, children’s protective services.

With the recent advancements in the pro-cannabis movement, many states are allowing medical cannabis to be used and grown. Other states are relaxing their laws and not bearing down so heavily on “Cannabis crime,” some are even legalizing the plant all together: Washington and Colorado. The mindset concerning Cannabis in the United States is evolving from taboo towards acceptance. With the times changing so rapidly, open-minded discussions about Cannabis should be deemed an important and integral part of raising your children.

                     The hardest part is finding a balance…

1. Are you pro-Cannabis, anti-Cannabis or stuck on the fence?

Before you approach your child about Cannabis, you have to you have to know exactly where it is you stand with Cannabis personally. This is important because you want to have meaningful and effective communication with your children. You don’t want to come off as too critical or overbearing, while at the same time you don’t want to give your child a green light to go smoke a joint with the neighborhood stoners. Figure out exactly where you stand, especially when it comes to age of use requirements that you can set for your children. Cannabis is appropriate for children in certain circumstances, but it is not for just any child to use it.

2. Do not be a Hypocrite.

 You cannot expect your child to listen to you if you are demanding that they adhere to on behavior while doing the exact opposite yourself. Your child has a brain, and they understand more than you think they do. If you consider yourself a smart person, then you have to consider your child just as sharp, approach the subject with a balanced viewpoint, and be ready to give clear and concise reasons and justifications for your decisions and claims.

3. Explain what Medical Cannabis is and the differences between recreational and medicinal use.
This division will forever be one of the most perplexing and complex subject in the entire Cannabis community. This subject must be approached with balance and caution. Medicinal Cannabis is allowed in 20 states, while also being completely legalized in two. The prospect of legalization is closer than it ever has been before, because the people are opening up to the idea of recreational cannabis and becoming accepting of it, much like happened with Alcohol at the end of prohibition.
As a parent you must take care to relate the differences between the two reasons for using cannabis, while maintaining a neutral stance for both sides. There are some patients who talk down on recreational users and vice versa. Teach equality here like you would any other controversial subject. Medical Cannabis is used to treat a physiological or psychological condition. Recreational Cannabis is used to relax or create euphoria. Each reason for use is a valid reason. Be sure to touch on the fact that just because someone likes pot doesn’t make them a bad person.

4. Don’t Hide it- Honesty really is the best policy.

                You do not want your child hiding things from you, so why teach them the behavior yourself? If you do not realize that your children see and hear way more than you think, you are sorely mistaken. Think back to when you were the child, need I say more? Listening outside doors, watching where mommy and daddy are going or what they are doing, playing hide and seek and getting into those tight little hiding spots- where you were told not to go. Watching, listening and being curious are how children learn much of what they know.

                Instead of dropping the bong behind the pile of clothes when your children burst into your special room, simply set it down calmly and lead them out of the room talking about what they are bringing up. This prevents an overabundance of curiosity directed at the pretty glass. If your child does ask what it is, do not call it a vase, it will eventually end up with a flower in it. Instead tell your child that it is for mommy and daddy’s herbal medicine, that it is not for children and to please not touch it. Do not be afraid to show your child your piece in this situation, this could actually mitigate the need to look when you are not there.

5. Those Funny Smells.

                For the parents who smoke or grow, those funny or yummy smells do eventually need addressed. Most parents choose to call it incense, and this truly works, because you can buy a pack of scent sticks to prove it. However, incense is synonymous with pot-smokers everywhere, so this could lead to other issues. This is a touchy subject because the smell is usually only apparent when you are actively smoking. Depending on your personal situation there are a few different routes to travel-
a.       Claim the “its incense” trick, but be sure to actually possess said incense, burn alternating smells, especially when you are medicating. Try to let your child see the incense burner, as well as the incense burning.
b.      Explain to your child that you have to smoke your medicine and that is how it works. Also be sure to territorialize your smoking area, usually an enclosed space deemed private. Be sure to establish a strong authority over this room, and it is always wise to add a lock of some sort to the door for when you are not in there. If you choose this route, your child will have more questions, be prepared to explain yourself and a bit about the plant itself. Attention needs to be paid to details here, and be sure to express that privacy of the matter that you smoke is a necessity, but that it is not lying- make an analogy that you don’t run around telling everyone what your poop looked like, and they are sure to get while giggling away. 
c.       Act like the smell doesn’t exist and shoo your child away while coughing. This is sure to lead to a wide variety of troubles. I don’t recommend it.
d.      The few obvious others-
1.       Cardboard round from paper towels or toilet paper stuffed full of dryer sheets- Classic.
2.       Open a window or turn on a fan. Ventilation saves headaches right? Answering unwanted questions can be a potential headache J
3.       Wait until the children are fast asleep to medicate.
6. Teach your child a valuable lesson.
               Brush up on your cannabis fact and history. Get out a chalkboard and make an entire lesson about the plant that will intrigue and enlighten your child. This is by far the best thing any parent can do for their children. Open their eyes and make it interesting. Start with the history of the plant in our society, from its historical cultivation and use, through prohibition on to today. Touch on the different movements that have come and gone, from medical to legalization. Draw diagrams, give examples and have fun. Your child will leave the conversation with an open mind, which will be sure to stimulate many future conversations. I am not promoting brainwashing or propagandizing here, you have to give balanced, accurate and provable facts. This is after all the knowledge your child will take into the world with them, give them something strong and unarguable to work with.
7. Buy books – instill the value of reading
                Books are important because they are handy sources of information that involves no electricity. A child can independently read a book, or you can take the time to read one to them. Books stimulate the mind, and allow for the imagination to be nurtured, they are a very important tool in the quest for knowledge. Available either online or in large book stores, you are sure to find a plethora of Cannabis books. The number of these books available is growing in number with the medical cannabis and legalization movement gaining such strong momentum and attention. Make sure to include books about cultivation (also known as grow books), Historical exposes, activist accounts- these support the people making changes- as well as the pro-cannabis children’s books that are now being published. 
      a.       “If APeacock Finds A Pot leaf” Written by Morgan Carman, Illustrated by Geneva Carman.

This book is the first in a duo of fun, educational and Cannabis friendly children’s books. The peacock, Peter goes on a quest of learning after finding a small pot leaf… I highly recommend these fantastic books.We own two copies.

b.      “It’sJust a Plant” Written, illustrated and published by Ricardo Cortez.

This was the first pro-cannabis children’s book to make the mainstream. It details the journey of a young girl as she learns about the plant from a diverse set of individuals involved with Cannabis in different and unique ways. This is also a must have for your library. This was the first Children’s Cannabis book our family read, we now have two copies of this book as well.

Be sure to be thoughtful in your expression of cannabis and all of its complexities. Think critically, and speak with an open-mind and open-heart. Your child is depending on you to show them the way; lead them into a brighter more accepting future. The Children are after-all, our future.