Cannabis safety for families starts with healthy communication and connection

Island County Public Health talks cannabis education+safety

Would you know a vaping device if you saw one in your teen’s room?

Methods for using cannabis are becoming increasingly sophisticated. The edibles market is rapidly expanding and offers gummies, baked goods, pills and even soft drinks. Gone are the days of simply rolling a joint. With vape pens getting smaller and more discreet, the job of parents to keep their kids safe is only getting harder.

The best way to protect yourself, your teens and your young children is to know what to watch for, and keep your kids informed with age-appropriate education on cannabis and the associated risks.

Combat cannabis risks with communication

When it comes to keeping their teens safe and healthy, parents everywhere are fighting an uphill battle. One of the best ways to know if your child is using cannabis, and to prevent cannabis use, is through connection and communication.

Spend time with your teen, even if they push back. Quality time allows you and your teen to bond, and lets conversation flow naturally. Pick an activity your teen is interested in and spend time together. Let the conversation flow, but use this time to discuss topics such as cannabis use and the associated risks.

Learn more about the risks associated with cannabis at knowthisaboutcannabis.org.

You discovered your teen using cannabis. What now?

You’ve discovered your teen smoking a vape pen and emotions are running high. Your impulse may be to yell, but it’s important to remain calm.

Once you’re feeling level-headed it’s time to have a conversation. Your teen needs to feel safe and loved. Try not to make them feel isolated because of their decisions. Try not to be judgmental, and avoid accusations. Instead, focus on facts. Ask why they started using cannabis, when they started and how often they smoke.

Next, seek help for you and your teen. Check out the list of support groups and numbers available at the end of the article for steps you can take.

Children and Cannabis

Cannabis safety doesn’t start in the teen years anymore. With cannabis edibles and beverages growing in popularity, it’s wise to have a conversation about cannabis safety with your young children as well.

If you are using cannabis in your home, make sure to store it safely just as you would any other medication. A safe storage bag or lock box can help ensure curious little hands don’t get a hold of something dangerous. You can find safe storage bags online here and Island County Public Health is hoping to provide lock boxes in the future, so watch for updates.

Even with your cannabis products locked safely away, you should still have a conversation with your children about not eating or drinking anything without checking with a responsible adult first. If your child is age 5 or older, you can also show them what a cannabis food product or beverage container looks like and what logos to watch for. Explain that cannabis is like alcohol and only safe for grown-ups to eat/drink and that it could make them sick.

Resources for parents:

Resources for teens:

Find more information and support at islandcountywa.gov, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Substance use and struggles with mental health often go hand in hand. Community resources are essential in keeping children and their parents from feeling isolated. Mental health will be discussed more thoroughly in Island County Public Health’s next article.

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