Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Talking to Kids about Pot Gets More Complex

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Talking to Kids about Pot Gets More Complex

Article excerpt

The conversation about drugs has never been easy for parents, but talking to teens about marijuana has become even more difficult with the growing legalization movement and President Obama's recent comments that pot is not more dangerous than alcohol.

"It really has become a complicated issue," said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership for a Drug Free America.

On Friday, the debate came to New Jersey when state Sen. Nick Scutari, D-Union, said he's preparing legislation that would legalize marijuana for residents 21 and over.

"It has gotten more difficult, because there's a lot more discussion out there about marijuana and it's always done in the adult context," said Pasierb. "Your 12-, 13-, 16-year-old are being exposed to these debates about whether a 35-year-old or 45-year-old should be able to smoke their marijuana."

Kids don't make the distinction, so Ada Mercuri-Garcia of Fort Lee makes it for her children. The mother of a 21-year-old stepdaughter and two sons in middle school has always had open conversations with her kids and while she tells them there are positive, medical uses for regulated marijuana, she warns them of the dangers of using and tells them the public conversation is not about kids.

"As far as using it recreationally, I've told them if you would buy pure marijuana, I'm sure it would be fine -- for an adult, not for a 13-year-old," she said. "But at the same time, you have to know where you're going to find that because what you're finding on the street, you don't know what's in it, you could wind up dead."

Pasierb and other experts say parents should stress the negative health consequences of marijuana on adolescents, whose brains are still developing up until age 25.

"You've done all the well-baby visits, you're the helicopter parent, this is one of those things that fits in there," he said. "It's about health. It's about brain development."

Introducing mind-altering elements can interfere with that development according to research, the experts say.

In a recent story in The New Yorker, Obama made headlines when he said he did not think marijuana was more dangerous than alcohol.

Pasierb said Obama was wrong to make the alcohol and marijuana comparison. …

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