Moms Do a Better Job of Teaching Kids About Drugs Than 'Anti-Pot' Campaigns

Colorado — the first state to legalize recreational marijuana — has made a second attempt at creating an anti-pot campaign directed at kids and teens. The state's first campaign featured life-size rat cages displayed at public schools with the tagline, "Don't be a lab rat," and both angered marijuana activists and allowed teens an opportunity to take hilarious pictures of themselves in cages to be posted on social media, not what the state was hoping for.


Colorado's second attempt seems like it has more potential for success, however. After talking with over 800 minors in various focus groups, the state Health Department launched the "What's Next" campaign, that pushes the message that while marijuana isn't necessarily evil, teens (and their brains) aren't ready for it yet. The campaign includes ads that show a teen boy drumming with the tagline "Don't let marijuana get in the way of passion," and one of a girl playing basketball that states, "Don't let marijuana get in the way of ambition."

This new campaign shows promise. Kids, especially teens, don't like being talked down to, and usually scoff at scare tactics, which is why the "Don't be a lab rat" campaign was a big fail. But, providing credible information on marijuana use and allowing teens to make their own, informed decisions is definitely a better idea all around. It's also an idea backed up by research, according to a press release from the Health Department.

As a parent, it can be confusing and tricky to figure out how to talk to your kids about marijuana use, especially as more states are legalizing medical marijuana use, while others are contemplating legalizing recreational marijuana as well. How do you explain to your children while it's okay for adults but not kids?

In our house, we're just honest about it and explain things in age appropriate ways. It helps that my husband is a pharmacist, and my son has asked about other types of medication (and the idea of medication abuse). He understands that some pills or substances might make you feel good for a little bit but that they all have consequences and other types of effects as well. 

Despite the panic over "OMG! How do we talk to our kids about the pot?!" it's really no different than talking about alcohol use — a legal substance that has the potential to be even more damaging and life altering than marijuana when it comes to teens. 

There's no need to glamorize or demonize marijuana use. Instead, offer age appropriate facts, talk about how while it's legal for adults, that doesn't mean it's appropriate or healthy for kids and teens. Sure, there may be some uncomfortable or difficult questions about your own use (past or present), but as marijuana laws change, so does the stigma, and ideally it shouldn't be any worse than discussing your use (or abstinence) of alcohol or cigarettes. 

More From The Stir: Smoking Pot Is Good For Moms 

Many states — and parents —  will be looking to Colorado to see whether this campaign will have a positive impact on teens when it comes to marijuana use. With the right combination of education, information, and parental involvement, I think there's a good chance it will do well, or at least better than putting a bunch of oversized rat cages in front of schools.

Image via © Masterfile/Corbis


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