Harm reduction vs. abstinence: How do you talk to your kids about cannabis?

Cannabis is everywhere in popular culture today. More so than ever, cannabis has attained widespread societal acceptance. Whether they like it or not, parents are faced with the reality of talking to their kids about cannabis in a whole new way. How do you tackle the subject? Do you take the abstinence approach (e.g. D.A.R.E. programs) which says absolutely no to cannabis? Or are you a harm reduction proponent – the idea that if cannabis is going to be a part of our culture, there are safe ways to use it?

Harm reduction proponents cite statistics in states and countries where cannabis has been legalized, and the results might surprise you. Research has found find that teen cannabis use is actually lower in those states or countries where cannabis is legalized for adult use. For instance, in Holland, where cannabis has been tolerated for decades, teen cannabis use is among the lowest in the world.

A recent study takes a look at teen cannabis use and finds that teens actually use less cannabis in those states with legalized adult-use cannabis versus those states that still enforce cannabis prohibition. Check out this article:

The research is showing that legalizing cannabis for adult use is actually minimizing cannabis use among teens. What are your thoughts on this subject? @memberdirectory, is legalization of cannabis for adults good for kids? Let’s have a discussion here.


I think legalization makes open conversations about cannabis far easier. When the possibility of incurring a criminal record for using cannabis is removed, the conversation about cannabis can echo the majority of the conversations we parents have with our kids about making smart choices and thinking things through. Smoking a blunt before your AP Physics exam? Probably not a great plan. Smoking that same blunt afterwards with your friends to celebrate? Great plan.


Because it took me 3 years to get my sister to try CBD, I take control of the pot conversation with my niece, who is 16. She was born n bred in California, so she understands cannabis more than her mother.

She knows I am a patient, but I have also educated her on me using it recreationally. I never smoke in front of her, though.

What I like most is that because she grew up there and saw it everywhere, she knows it’s safer and healthier than alcohol. That’s scarier for me than her smoking cannabis.


I partake with my children IF they prove to be worthy of that gift. (at 16 or older)I have never hidden my cannabis use or grows from them. I have always taught them adulting first and everything else later. So if you are a productive member of society and handling your business then by all means use marijuana if you like. If it inhibits your ability to be responsible and self sustaining then you have to reevaluate your use…and that stands true for anything that keeps you from doing your part and self sustaining.