Possible Reduction in Teens’ Marijuana Usage

With the increased legalization of recreational marijuana, many people have worried that this will lead to more adolescents smoking pot [1]. Research shows that teens are more likely to use marijuana than tobacco [2]. The belief that marijuana can’t be harmful because it’s natural and not addictive is a common justification that teens use to continue using marijuana.

However, there are legitimate concerns regarding teens and pot. Primary concerns include the impact on brain development, increased risk for mental health issues, and increased risk-taking behaviors [2]. While rates of teens using marijuana were at their highest approximately a year ago, new research shows that rates are beginning to decrease [1,2].

Researchers believe this may be due to the fact that more teens are now aware of the potential negative consequences of marijuana use than teens were previously [1]. Research shows that it is not whether marijuana use is legal or illegal that influences teen use rates, but rather their perception of the drug [1].

Providing education about the potential consequences of marijuana use during adolescence can help reduce the usage rate [1]. It can be easier to provide this education through open conversations, rather than just providing information.

When talking with teens about marijuana, it can be helpful to approach it from a place of curiosity. This is important because adolescence is a developmental phase where individuals are beginning to build their own identity—separate from their family. This can come across as rebellion, but this psychological task helps teens eventually grow into independent adults.

Mom talking to her daughter about marijuana useThis psychological phase can manifest as rebellious acts or having less interest in their parent’s opinions. This can make it difficult for parents to impart wisdom or have discussions about serious topics with their teenage child.

In order to optimize your chances of success, express genuine curiosity about their ideas about marijuana. This can sound like, “I’m curious what you know about weed” or “what have you heard about it?”

Staying open and calm while they share their thoughts about that can create the space for your child to be honest with you. This gives you the opportunity to really understand their thoughts on the topic and can give you a sense of how likely they are to use.

It can be difficult to stay calm while having conversations like this, but it’s important so there can be an ongoing open dialogue about these issues. Avoid becoming angry or making judgmental comments.

After listening to their viewpoint, you can offer the knowledge you have about marijuana. Make sure it is fact-based, rather than assumptions based on fear. You may choose to share your own experiences with marijuana. If you do, it can be helpful to share what lead you to use and how this impacted you [2].

Becoming aware of the facts about and signs of teen marijuana use can equip you to have these conversations with the teens in your life. This knowledge can also help with getting a teen professional help if marijuana use becomes severe enough to require professional treatment.


[1] University of Washington. (2020, July 20). Legal marijuana may be slowing reductions in teen marijuana use. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200720164526.htm 

[2] Facts for Families. (October, 2019). Marijuana and teens. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Marijuana-and-Teens-106.aspx

About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on October 7, 2020
Reviewed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 7, 2020
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.