Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Colorado's Legalization of Recreational Marijuana, What About Our Kids? A Mother's Perspective

Today Colorado made history, the very first recreational marijuana shops opened to the public. Now, let me emphasize these retail establishments are the very first of their kind in the United States of America and they just opened in my backyard. It's truly a historical day, there were media outlets from all over the world descending on Denver to get the story, from print media to cable news networks.

I've been keeping a pulse on the coverage, watching conversations develop. Naturally with any hot topic in the media, you can learn quickly where people fall on the spectrum of their support or disdain.

One of the most common questions that arises is, what are you going to tell your kids?

Now let me clarify a few pieces of pertinent background information before I go into my perspective on Amendment 64. Medicinal marijuana has been for sale in Colorado in dispensaries that are in plain sight all around our town (and the state) for a couple of years now. When my girls inquire about a dispensary, we simply tell them they are an herbal pharmacy where patients get their medicine prescribed by a doctor. The discussion has not gone much deeper than that, they don't ask if I've ever taken the herbal medicine or why their doctor doesn't prescribe herbal medicine or what is used to treat, etc. I would absolutely discuss any topics that came up surrounding dispensaries if they were to arise.

Now, onto legalized recreational marijuana. What in the world am I telling my kids? I didn't sit down today and throw out the topic of legalized pot to my 10 and 7 year old daughters. I will definitely have many conversations about pot use with them, as well as alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs. I do not want my children to use alcohol before they are of legal drinking age (21 years old), I certainly don't want them to be smoking pot. I'm assuming within the next five years, there will be Amsterdam style coffee shops in our community and not just retail establishments that are like liquor stores. My children will definitely be more exposed to a marijuana culture than children that are being raised in other states. Do I think this will impact their ability to make clear and informed choices when they are old enough to do so? I think the biggest impact growing up in this culture will have on my daughters is that marijuana won't be taboo, there won't be an intrigue and level of curiosity that does exist in other places where it's only purchased through illegal methods and people have to sneak around to use. I want my daughters to understand how their developing bodies need the best nutrition coupled with exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle and drugs/alcohol don't fit into that picture. The most important part of my job as a parent during this new era, is to keep an open line of communication with my daughters about all the hard topics that will eventually arise, never skirting any topic they need to discuss.

There are some basic facts that come with Amendment 64 and I have familiarized myself with them, so I am prepared to talk at any moment. We all know these discussions arise when we least expect it, parenting at it's finest!

Amendment 64 FAQ

If you are 21 years of age:
Grow up to 6 plants in your home
Possess marijuana (up to 1 ounce)
Consume marijuana on private property

Not legal:
Use marijuana in a public space
Drive under the influence
Provide marijuana to anyone under 21
Take it across state lines (it is illegal to possess marijuana at DIA, Federal property)

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