Episode 15 - Talking to Teens: "Just Say Know!"

It's not harmless, but how harmful is it to developing brains? Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum offers a scientific and sensible way to discuss cannabis with your kids.


This episode deals with two very different issues:

  1. The effect of the Santa Rosa fires on the country’s best cannabis event— The Emerald Cup, which I encourage you to attend if you can

  2. The thorny issue of teen use and how it affects developing brains.

The latter is The Big Issue that confounds parents, many of them themselves users, and it was motivated by one of our Patreon supporters, Jeremy Matz, who wrote to me several weeks ago, pleading for clarity on the topic.

Teen use “is one of the primary stumbling blocks to sane cannabis policy…and extremely difficult to separate fact from propaganda," Jeremy wrote. "Is moderate responsible teenage use a real concern? Most of my adult friends starting using cannabis while teenagers and most are working professionals. At what age do concerns start to go away:16, 18, 21? Does science have anything to add? Might it be beneficial for some teenagers as stress relief, mind opening, etc...? I'm trying to prepare my children for the brave new world and there is very little advice other than 'Just Say No,' which is as effective for cannabis as it is for teenage sex.”

I couldn’t agree more, so I called Marsha Rosenbaum, PhD, mother (the photo above was taken with her son, Johnny Irwin), and author of Safety First: A Reality Based Approach to Teens and Drugs, the best primer for parents who want to approach the issue honestly. As for “Just Say No” drug-prevention policies, let’s just say that these approaches cost taxpayers $1.3 billion a year and can only be deemed abject and expensive failures.

Since 1999, over 350,000 copies of Safety First have been requested by and distributed to individuals and educational, health and governmental institutions and agencies in all 50 states, and 35 countries. It has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Czech, Hebrew, Portuguese, Greek, and Papiamento. It’s time the aging officials presiding over US drug policies read it and jettison the 20th- century solutions they’ve been using to confront a 21-century problem.

Rosenbaum presents a radical idea: Talk to young people honestly about the possible harms (and potential pleasures) of drug and alcohol use (and yes, there are a few harms, including loss of control, paranoia, and extreme discomfort). You can also speak honesty about your own forays into drugs. Despite your best attempts to obfuscate the facts, your kids already know that you weren’t a paragon of virtue in your own youth. It’s also OK to not to know all the answers. My own experience reporting about cannabis leads me to the conclusion that in today’s world, where information is just a keystroke away, your kids are most likely better versed on THC, CBD and terpenes than you are.

On another note: If you have an issue that you’d like us to explore please become a Patreon supporter (for as little as $1 a month) and let us know what it is. This is exactly what the post-prohibition era needs to be: trurhful, open-minded conversations among open-minded people.

Joe Dolce