Medical Marijuana - What Parents Need to Know

  • Since medical marijuana use became legal in Missouri State, you may have heard different opinions about whether it is safe to use. You may not be sure what Missouri's laws are, or how marijuana use can affect young people.

    When it comes to protecting your child's health, it's important to remember your power as a parent. By knowing the facts, and using proven prevention strategies, you can help your child avoid using marijuana, alcohol, other drugs, and other risky behaviors.

    How does Marijuana Use Affect Teen Health? Three reasons why YOU should care:

      1. Marijuana is addictive.
      2. It is against the law for anyone without a license to use marijuana.
      3. Marijuana use can get in the way of kids reaching their full potential.

    GOOD NEWS: Most high school students in Rockwood do not report using Marijuana.

    The Facts

    • Marijuana is addictive: Adolescents who start using marijuana before the age of 14 are four times more likely to become addicted by the time they are adults. Marijuana addiction is more common among teens than adults because their brains are still developing and vulnerable.
    • One in six teens that use marijuana will develop a marijuana use disorder.
    • Marijuana is the most commonly used substance after alcohol and tobacco.
      1. The average age of first use of marijuana in Missouri is 14.
      2. 12% of Rockwood students have smoked marijuana in their lifetime.
      3. 6.7 % have smoked it in the past 30 days.
      4. It's also important to know that having a Medical Marijuana program in Missouri may increase the amount of black-market marijuana available and the number of students who use it.

    Why do teens use marijuana?

    • Some teens make the mistake of believing that marijuana can help reduce issues with ADHD, depression or anxiety, and improve their focus in school. But, in truth, adolescents who use marijuana can have:
      1. Increased difficulty memorizing things
      2. Distorted thinking and perception (exaggerated or irrational thoughts)
      3. Hallucinations
      4. Paranoia
      5. Anxiety
      6. Depression
      7. A permanent decrease in IQ with prolonged use.
    • Teens who use marijuana are actually more likely to experience:
      1. School failure and dropouts
      2. Mental health problems
      3. Lack motivation and energy
      4. A loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy

    What can parents do?

    Express a no-use attitude.

    Children whose parents have a positive attitude toward marijuana use are five times more likely to use marijuana by 8th grade.

    Start early:

      1. Since teenagers who use marijuana often start by age 14, parents should start an ongoing conversation about drugs by 4th or 5th grade.
      2. Be clear and specific about your family expectations about marijuana use.
      3. Say:
        1. What do you know about marijuana?
        2. Do you know that marijuana can hurt your health?
        3. Marijuana use is against the law for anyone without a medical marijuana license.
        4. We want you to do well in school, so we have a family rule against using drugs, including marijuana.

    Give your child ways to say no to marijuana and other drugs.

      1. Role play social situations where your child is offered marijuana by a peer.
      2. Help your child to find the right words to refuse drug offers.
      3. Help your child suggest an alternative to using drugs.
      4. Let your child know that it is fine to walk away from someone, including a friend, who is offering drugs and, if needed, to call you for a ride home.


      1. Provide consistent negative consequences for not meeting the guidelines.
      2. Remember to provide compliments for good choices and healthy behavior.

               What to say: "It is important to our family that we all stay healthy and safe. One way to do this is to avoid drug use, including marijuana. This is especially important for teenagers since marijuana can harm the developing brain. That's why we have a family rule against using marijuana. If we find out you are using drugs, what do you think a fair consequence would be?"

    Keep track of your child.

      1. Monitor your child's behavior to ensure the rules are being followed.
      2. Remain actively involved in your child's life and get to know his or her friends.
      3. Network with other parents so that you may support one another to keep your children away from drugs.
      4. Keep lines of communication open.
      5. Eat dinner together.
      6. Do fun family activities together.
      7. Communicate the way your child does (texting, email, Facebook, Twitter).

    Monitor your own behavior.

      1. You are a role model for your child so think about what you do and the message it sends.
      2. Avoid heavy drinking around your child or teen.
      3. Do not use marijuana around your child or teen.
      4. Never drive after using alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.

    What do I do if I find my teen is using marijuana or other drugs or breaking other family rules?

      1. Keep calm.
      2. Communication is key! When dealing with behavior problems it is important to communicate your disapproval of the behavior without making your child feel rejected or like they are a bad person.
      3. Remember the guidelines that were set and the consequences that go along with breaking them.
      4. Leave the door open for problem solving.

    Don't overreact. This may lead your child to take greater risks to prove that they are independent. When consequences feel overly punishing, your teen is more likely to:

    • Rebel
    • Feel resentment
    • Take revenge and you may see the behavior get worse. This is not the time for anger, accusations, name calling or sarcasm.

    How can I tell if my teen is using marijuana?

    Be aware of changes in your child's behavior, such as carelessness with grooming, mood changes, and relationship problems with family members and friends. In addition, changes in grades, skipping school, lost interest in favorite activities, and changes in eating or sleeping habits could all be related to drug use.

    If someone is high on marijuana, they might:

    • Seem dizzy or uncoordinated
    • Seem silly and giggly for no reason
    • Have very red, bloodshot eyes
    • Have a hard time remembering things that just happened

    If someone uses marijuana often, they might:

    • Have an odor on clothes and in the bedroom
    • Use incense and other deodorizers in living space
    • Increase their use of perfume, cologne or breath mints
    • Use eye drops
    • Wear clothing or jewelry or have posters that promote drug use
    • Have unexplained use of money or may steal money
    • Have items used with drugs such as pipes, bongs, scales, rolling papers, blunt wraps or vapor pens

    What should I do if my teen continues using marijuana, even after suffering consequences?

    If you think that your teen is addicted or cannot stop using marijuana or other drugs, contact their doctor or WHO IN MISSOURI? 

    Missouri Marijuana Laws & Minors

    In Missouri state voters approved creation of a legal, medical marijuana system. Only those with a Medical Marijuana license can possess marijuana.

    Legal products include foods and beverages with marijuana infused in them. Some of these products may be attractive to youth and mistaken for common food and beverages. Examples include candy, soft drinks, baked-goods and juices. The law allows marijuana advertising. Be aware of marijuana advertising that your child is exposed to online, in magazines and newspapers, and in the community. Talk about the ads and the messages they send. Use these talks to stress your family rules about not using drugs, including marijuana.

    The law did not change for people without a license. Possession can result in a felony charge. It is illegal for anyone with a Medical Marijuana license to provide marijuana to anyone without one.

    To report illegal marijuana use, call your local police department.

    Local Substance Abuse Resources

    • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA), 314-962-3456. Free phone consultations and in-person assessments.
    • Adolescent Substance Use Counseling - Preferred Family Healthcare Town and Country. Phone: 636-224-1300.

    National Substance Abuse Resources