This post is about a parent lecture I attended about kids and teens.
The introduction is here.
Part Two: Marijuana
Two police officers spoke on this topic about national and local trends.
I'm sharing what was new to me or what surprised me or what I think you may not know.
Marijuana is the #1 used illegal drug in America.
Pot use is seen everywhere and glorified in movies and on TV shows and in songs now. Kids think it's cool and not dangerous to do since it is seen and heard everywhere as being fun and portrayed in the entertainment industry as harmless. The TV show Justified focuses on a family who grows marijuana as a business.
(My opinion: The legalization of marijuana for medical use in some states may also contribute to kids and teens thinking it is not only harmless but beneficial! Even hearing about this on the news may give kids the idea that pot is not dangerous.)
Pot is widely used by teens in my suburb and in the Houston area and all over the country, it is popular everywhere across our nation, it's not something more popular in one area or absent in another.
A concern is, if kids can avoid using pot they will not move on to more dangerous drugs and will avoid also getting into a negative spiral of behavior that may affect their life path in a major way.
Bad decisions in the teen years can impact the teen for years to come. Pot use can cause some of these bad things to happen. Being high on pot impairs judgement and can result in making bad decisions of one's actions, and that action may harm the user (rather than the drug directly causing harm). For example being high may lead a girl to get date raped or to have sex without contraception and may lead to teen pregnancy or catching a sexually transmitted disease. Kids may suffer long term consequences from doing the bad action more than being high that one time.
Marijuana is much stronger with DHA now than in the 1980s and 1970s when our generation was young. If a parent thinks pot is a weak drug based on what they knew from when they were younger they need to know that it is much more potent now.
Marijuana is mainly sourced from inside the United States now rather than being imported.
Using hydroponic gardening, growers can cultivate large leafed plants that are powerful in DHA strength. The plants can be grown indoors in controlled environments which expands the capability compared to trying to grow it outdoors in soil and dealing with nature and weather constrictions. This is one reason that pot growing inside the USA has risen.
Some kids are growing their own pot. They use the internet to learn pot growing techniques. Everything you need to know is right online for easy, free reading. (I wonder where are they growing it though? In nature preserves?)
Marijuana is the biggest gateway drug, many statistics show that it was the first illegal drug a person used. It can lead to more serious drug use. In studies, addicts say it was their first recreational drug.
Almost half of high school students report having tried it at least once before they graduated.
The age of starting to use pot has gone down -- 12 is a popular age to try pot for the first time.
In a 2010 study of kids in grade 8 and 10, 12% said they used pot in the last month. Another study surveyed kids in every grade from 7 through 12 and the statistic spread out to be 7% used pot in the last month.
One in three pot smokers is addicted, with physical addiction symptoms.
Pot can be addicting (busting an old myth)!
Almost half of pot smokers also use another drug for recreation (studies say). This leads back to the idea that if you can stay off pot you may avoid getting into an even more dangrous drug.
Marijuana for medical use is not legal in Texas at this time.
Pot has many new slang terms that parents may never have heard. You may not realize your kids are talking about it. You can read lists of terms on the internet to educate yourself.
Parents need to know facts about pot use and signs of possible use. You can easily find all this information on the Internet. Parents should read these things. Many parents have smart phones with internet, the police officer said we should take five minutes of our time and read about pot on the Internet.
Educate yourself on signs of being high or drug use. (I am not going to blog all these lists, they are on the Internet for easy reading.) Here is one list and another list is here.
The biggest thing to notice is the change in circle of friends. Beware if they say their friends are using it but they are not, they may say they are trying to save them or be a good influence on them. In the end often those kids wind up doing drugs with the new drug using friends.
More kids are using pot by eating or drinking it. This may be because some teens are averse to smoking or don't want the smell of the smoke in their house, car, or on their clothes (so they don't get caught by their parents). Pot can be put into any food. It has a gross taste so they usually try to mask it in sweet foods like brownies or cookies. However it is being mixed with butter then used to cook with. They put it in anything they want.
When smoked pot gets you high immediately and it lasts about three hours.
When eaten or put into a liquid to drink it takes a half hour to get you high then the high lasts about three hours.
Nearly everyone in school knows who deals and how much it costs and when to get it, such as on what day of the week the dealer has new inventory to sell. Even kids who do not use drugs know this.
Kids may report tips on dealers to 1 888 KID CHAT. This does not have caller ID attached and the call cannot be traced. It is anonymous. Local police are mandated by law to follow up on every single tip received and to report the outcomes of the investigations.
What parents can do:
Know your kid's friends.
Ask where they are going, with who, how they will get there and how they will get back. Then call and verify this information.
Use app for smart phones "Where's my phone". You can monitor the location of your kid's phone. Then when you see where they are, see if that is where they said they'd be. Then call them and ask where they are. See if they are telling you the truth or not.
Teens asking for money may be spending it on drugs.
Teens with large amount of money that you didn't give them, may be dealers.
If you see signs of drug use in your teen with physical symptoms or behavior, ask them then make them take a drug test. Wal Mart sells a test kit for about $15. Kids will lie right to your face over and over even when you say you have the test kit and will test them now. Do the test anyway.
Police officer gave the politically correct speech that they are supposed to tell parents then he shared his opinion parent to parent:
Your kids have enough friends. Be the parent. You are not your kid's friend.
You own the home. Go through their stuff.
Kids have no legal right to privacy. (A parent in the audience asked if parents checking on them is an illegal violation of privacy!)
If your teen has their own car know what is in that car. Sometimes teen's cars are full of pot, pot seeds, rolling papers et cetera and the parents never looked in the car, assuming they'd not find anything or thinking it is the kid's property and none of their business.
Look for certain odd things like empty plastic baggies laying around with the bottom corners cut out of them or many empty bottles of Visine eye drops.
Some pot smokers empty cigars of tobacco and insert the marijuana leaves. If you find tobacco leaves laying around it is from the waste of the cigar. You may see this next to park benches in local parks where kids will sit and prepare it and just wipe the tobacco onto the ground. (I saw this discarded cigar tobacco at a local park and wondered what that was about!)
Know what rolling papers and various pot smoking and rolling equipment looks like. Go to the local smoke shops (legal) and look at what is for sale. That's the same stuff that kids use.
An easy pipe is made from an alumninum soda can. They crush it, put some holes in it and fashion a disposable pipe from it. They often throw it into the woods or alongside the road when done. You may find these around your yard or in local areas.
Look at your kid's phone and look at the photos. You may be surprised what you find.
Read your kid's text messages. Use the app "My mobile watchdog" which gives you every text message and photo that everyone on your mobile phone bill receives (read: your kids). When this was shared the teens in the room let out an audible gasp and groan! The parents also woke up and repeatedly asked the name of the app so they could get it. This produced the loudest clamor of the night!
Read your kid's Facebook account. They may share about drug use or use symbols (i.e. pot leaf) to advertise that they like pot.
(Related: know all your kid's accounts and passwords and check on what is being said on them.)
Kids are good at hiding pot. The officer showed us a hardcover book found in a teen's car which had hollowed out pages with pot and a pipe stored inside. Some kids store pot in school library books. Girls have been using hollowed out eye shadow makeup cases or emptied lipstick cases. Parents look everywhere and open things up such as open up the makeup cases.
The goal for parents is to try to keep our kids safe and healthy and to avoid making mistakes or getting into accidents while under the influence of substances.
Related: National Geographic October 2011 cover story was about the biology of the teenage brain. See my blog post here with link to the story. The immature, still developing brain sometimes makes stupid choices and mistakes, sometimes it harms them and other times it can kill them. We want our kids alive and healthy, right? So be the parent and actively parent your kids.