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#AskAlyson: Our Son is Smoking Pot!

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Dear Alyson


My son (age 14), is smoking pot.  My husband says it’s “no big deal”.  My son says almost everyone on his hockey team does it and isn’t it legal now, anyway?  I am adamantly opposed and feel like everything is conspiring against what I think is good parenting!  Isn’t “Don’t Do Drugs!” the right way to go?  How can I convince my son that doing drugs is a bad choice when we are surrounded by others who are so accepting?




Hi Andreea


Thanks for your note and I want you to know you are not alone.  Many parents feel the same way and talking about drugs with our children is very difficult.


Perhaps some of these ideas could be helpful:


  1. Legalization of a substance does not mean it is healthy and without risk.  Prohibition of alcohol was a disaster.  People kept drinking, but via illegal means.  People were jailed, fined and imprisoned.  Solving issues with alcohol were better solved through prevention and substance abuse programs, public awareness campaigns, etc.  Legalizing pot doesn’t mean we condone its use.  It keeps addicts out of the penal system and in the mental stream, where help can be provided.


  1. Unlike any other time in history, we have a new social situation: the invention of fentanyl.  This is an opioid that can be prepared with no special equipment.  One speck as small as a grain of sugar makes you higher than heroine.  But accidently ingest 2 grains of “sugar” and your dead.  Why should you care if you son is only smoking pot?  Because fentanyl is slipping into the pot distribution chain.  It is not enough to have a trusted dealer.  Perhaps legal marijuana is safer, but no amount of marijuana is safe.  Fentanyl is considered a health crisis in North America.  When it hits a city, the ambulance services can’t keep up with the number of overdoses each night.  Because it is so powerful, a small amount can be shipped from China in packages so small that they weigh less than 30 grams.  Conveniently, packages under 30 grams can’t be opened and inspected by customs.  The street value of a brick-sized shipment of fantasy is around $20K.


  1. Smoking pot is mood altering, and as a psychotropic, it’s a form of self medication, like alcohol.  You can share your worry that it’s a poor strategy for coping with life when you need to be altered to face life’s challenges.  Perhaps address other ways to relieve stress, face peer pressure, etc.


  1. Legal or not – sucking particles into your lungs is gonna break down healthy lung tissue.


  1. You love your son and have concerns about his choices. Research shows that the younger the drug use starts, the more likely they are to suffer from long-term repercussions. 14 is young.


  1. Is he selling? Usually that is a BIG RED FLAG for other problems.


  1. Would he consider seeing a counsellor? It doesn’t have to be a drug counsellor, but someone to talk to him about how things are going in his life, including having parents bearing down on them about smoking pot.  He may need an outside adult to discuss his private life with.


Lastly, the smoking of pot has greatly evolved in the past 10 years and it is not likely as innocent of a process as many think.  Buying pure pot that isn’t laced with other highy addictive narcotics is not an easy find.  Dealers have upped their game to ensure they get repeat customers!  Many teens also use e-cigarettes to vape cannabis oils as it provides a much higher potency than smoking a joint.  It is nearly impossible to keep up with how the industry is evolving and I think taking the “it’s no big deal” approach can lead parents and teens down a path nobody saw coming.


You are taking all the right front-line steps.  Keep up your good work!


Happy Parenting,


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