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How to Talk to Youth AboutMarijuana

Talking with youth about marijuana can be difficult, but it’s the best way to help them make good decisions. The more informed you are, the more helpful you can be to the youth in your life. 

Check out our CBS Denver town hall for an informed discussion on the importance of getting young people talking.

Watch the Town Hall Discussion

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    Advice for Parents

    Talking with young adults about retail marijuana can help keep them from using before they turn 21. These tips can help you get started.

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    Ages 13–16

    • Start the Conversation

      According to the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, youth with supportive parents, teachers, coaches and other adults are less likely to use marijuana underage. That's why it's important to talk with youth before they try marijuana for the first time. Start the conversation early. Don't try to squeeze it in on the way to school or when you only have a few minutes. Find time to have these conversations that works for both of you.

    • Listen

      Be a good listener. Get their opinion. Don’t talk over or down to them. When you allow them to be heard, they’re more likely to listen when you speak.

    • Set Clear Rules

      Make your rules clear and stick to them. Let them know what will happen for not following them.

    • Role-play How to Say "No"

      Work with youth to find tools to deal with peer pressure. Many youth don't realize saying no can be as simple as saying, "If I get caught, I won't be able to do sports, theater, dance, etc." Also, encourage youth to use you as an excuse to avoid marijuana use. For example, "My parents would ground me for the summer."

    • Focus on the Positive

      Encourage them to make choices that help them achieve their goals. Remind them that four out of five high schoolers don't use marijuana.

    • Talk About Friends

      Know who their friends are, what they're like and how they influence the youth in your life.

    • Build Confidence

      Teach them that if they want to reach their goals, they need to focus on more than just marijuana. Being labeled a "pothead" could hurt their changes of getting a job or even dating someone they like.

    • Keep Your Relationship Strong

      Let them know you're on their side. You want them to make the best decisions for themselves.

    • They Care What You Think

      You might be surprised at the effect that your words, actions and opinions can have on your child's choices.

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    Ages 17–20

    • Keep Talking

      Even if you’ve talked before, their issues and opinions change all the time. Plus, as children get older, they can feel more pressure from friends and classmates.

    • Stay Connected

      Be involved in their life. It will help you to be able to key into what they're thinking and feeling.

    • Set Clear Rules

      Make your rules clear and stick to them. Let them know what will happen for not following them.

    • Give Them Responsibility

      Teach them to take charge of their own sleep, health, schoolwork and more. Having control over parts of their lives helps to teach youth how their decisions impact their health and future.

    • Keep Them Balanced

      Celebrate the things they do well and the things that keep them balanced. Getting a job or scoring a goal in a big game are good examples.

    • Stick to Your Word

      Listening to how they feel is important. Also, remember to stand your ground on how you feel about marijuana.

    • Help Them Achieve Their Goals

      Help them figure out what their hobbies and dreams are and what freedoms they want. Help them prioritize those interests over using marijuana. If they're focused on goals that mean a lot to them, they'll be less likely to let marijuana get in their way.

      Visit to learn more.

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    Advice for Teachers, Coaches, Family Members & More

    What you think matters to the young people in your life. As an adult who they trust, you can impact the choices of the youth you work with. What you say, and the example you set, makes a difference. These tips can help you get talking.

    • Remind Them That They're Role Models

      Let them know that younger students and siblings look up to them as examples.

    • Remind Them What Can Happen for Breaking the Rules

      Teens that break school or school activity rules may have to go to drug counseling. They can also be suspended or kicked out of school or off a team. They can also face prosecution.

    • Effect on School and Sports

      Stress the fact that teens who use marijuana regularly may have trouble learning and memory issues. They may also have lower math and reading scores. Marijuana can also affect the way they play sports because it can affect coordination.

    • Learn How Teens Are Using Marjiuana

      Because of vaporizers, edibles and drinks, it is easier than ever to hide and use marijuana at school or during school activities. Learn the different ways youth can use marijuana so you know what to look out for.

  • More Information


    Download Youth Prevention materials on our Resources page.

    For more information about talking with youth, visit