How to Talk to Your Kids About Marijuana

This doesn’t have to be a hard conversation.

Legalization has brought weed into the open. That’s an opportunity to talk frankly and honestly with your kids about it. Many adults now use it, and kids are likely to encounter proponents of marijuana. But they should also know about the evidence of harm to growing minds.

And that’s where you come in.


This isn’t your hippy uncle’s weed: THC concentration has increased 300% between 1995 and 2014.


Frequent users of cannabis age 12-17 are 130% more likely to misuse opioids.


If you’re under 25 and use weed, you are at greater risk for depression

Start talking to your kid as early as possible.

  • Begin talking to your kid about marijuana at 5 or 6 years old, and keep talking until they’re an adult.
  • Explain your concerns, values as a family, and what you hope for your kid’s future.
  • has information on marijuana tailored for teens.

Explain the facts about marijuana.

    • Talk to your child about the unique risks to users under 25.
      – The human brain continues to grow and develop into the mid-twenties.
      – THC in marijuana affects their still-developing brain.
      – THC affects brain development in ways related to learning and memory.
      – That can result in poorer school and athletic performance, and higher chance of depression and other mental health problems later in life.
    • Encourage your kid to learn the facts at
    • Ask if your kid is interested in hearing a doctor’s opinion about marijuana. Offer to listen with them at their next appointment.

Don’t talk the whole time. Ask questions!

  • Be patient and be ready to listen. Your kid is more likely to listen if it’s a conversation and not a lecture.
  • Find the right moments to talk. Driving past a dispensary or seeing an ad for recreational or medical marijuana products provide opportunities for conversation.
  • Ask your child open-ended questions like, “What do you think about weed?”
  • Get your child to list reasons to stay away from weed.
  • Ask your child to think about how they may encounter cannabis in their lives.

Talk about saying no.

  • Tell your child you want him or her to say no to marijuana, in all its various forms.
  • Help your child think of ways to say no, so they can feel ready.
  • Tell your child that saying no can be hard, but most kids DON’T use it.

Keep talking.

  • It’s important to continue talking to your kid about weed until they’re an adult.
  • Share new research about cannabis with your kid to keep the conversation going.
  • Remind your child of what you talked about, and keep asking your kid questions about what they think.

What if my kid uses cannabis?

  • First, try to be understanding. Then focus on getting help.
  • Don’t show a negative reaction.
  • Even if you are angry, scared, or both, do not show it. That may push your kid away, and you may lose the chance to help.
  • Ask what made them start using marijuana. Was it just one time or regular use?
  • Reiterate your house rules, and apply reasonable consequences for the behavior.
  • Remember the most important thing is helping your child.
  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • SAMHSA National Treatment Locator: