The biennial Healthy Youth Survey measures the health of adolescents in Washington. Schools, counties, and others use this information to guide policy and programs that serve youth. According to the 2018 survey, cannabis use among Washington teens has remained steady at levels similar to the national rates since 2010, despite the changing landscape of legalized cannabis in our state.
Although use of cannabis has not changed significantly in the last several years, youth attitudes towards cannabis moved toward greater acceptance, both nationally and in Washington State.
The good news is that parents are the primary influence on adolescent behavior — even if it may not always seem that way. Here are some resources that can help parents discuss the use of cannabis with their children.
Get tips for talking with your kids about making healthy choices at StartTalkingNow.org
How to Talk to Your Kids About Cannabis
A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Underage Marijuana Use (brochure, English & Spanish versions updated in 2017)
Available in English | Spanish | Amharic | Somali | Swahili | Tigrinya | Vietnamese
The booklet, produced by Seattle Children’s Hospital and the UW Social Development Research Group, offers information, resources, and practical advice for parents about:
- The effects of cannabis on adolescent health
- Techniques for talking to your child about cannabis
- What to do and how to help if your child is using cannabis
- The basics of the law in Washington state
Available in English and Spanish from the ADAI Clearinghouse.
Under the Influence… of You
The Washington State Department of Health launched this cannabis prevention campaign in January 2020 to educate parents of teens aged 12-17, coaches, teachers, and other caregivers in Washington State. This campaign encourages adults to talk with teens about the risks and consequences of using cannabis and provides tips on how to be involved in the lives of teens. Each ad directs to more information on StartTalkingNow.org and InicieLaConversacion.org.
Materials for the Under the Influence… of You campaign are available in English and Spanish from the ADAI Clearinghouse for community organizations, schools, and individuals in Washington State. View and order the posters and factsheets here.
Helping Someone Quit/Cut Back
This E-Learning Module about Helping Someone to Quit/Cut Back includes a section for parents with suggestions on how to talk to teens about cannabis, some frequently asked questions, and where to find helpful resources (about 25 min.).
Other modules in the e-learning series may also be of interest to parents; they address cannabis and our bodies, different products and methods of use, Washington state law, and other general questions about cannabis. Find the whole series here.
Washington State Resources
Washington State Healthy Youth Survey: Marijuana Use in Grades 6 through 12 (2021)
Just how big a problem is teen cannabis use? This report on cannabis use for grades 6-12 from the 2016 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey provides data from local teens about their current rates of use rates, common attitudes regarding cannabis risk, and the relationship between lower grades in school and cannabis use.
Washington Poison Center
The Washington Poison Center’s Public Health Education team provides informational programs for adults about cannabis (Public Health Education), like Cannabis 102: The Cannabis Landscape. They also provide training for adults about the legality, health effects/correlations, use rates and trends, and why youth use, such as Cannabis: Facts for Influential Adults.
The ADAI Clearinghouse
Resource center for Washington State residents, with both print and online resources about cannabis and other drugs and alcohol. Visit us in person (University District, Seattle) or online. Community organizations may request bulk quantities of materials at no charge.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)’s Cannabis site.
- Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know (June 2016)
- Marijuana’s Long-Term Effects on the Brain (April 2017)
- Preventing Drug Abuse among Children & Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders (2003)
Partnership to End Addiction. A drug abuse prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery resource, developed to help parents and caregivers effectively address alcohol and drug abuse with their teens and young adults. Includes a Parents Toll-Free Helpline: 1-855-DRUGFREE. See also their free “Marijuana Talk Kit,” which features facts about cannabis, why it is risky for teens to use it, what you should and shouldn’t say when talking to your teen, and how to respond to your child’s questions are arguments.
Medline Plus: Marijuana (National Library of Medicine). Regularly updated resource for reliable information about cannabis use, effects of use, prevention, medical cannabis for adolescents, and more. Medline Plus is an excellent resource for students writing school papers on cannabis and other medical topics!
Are you concerned your teen is using drugs or alcohol?
Washington Recovery Helpline: Offers 24-hour confidential referral and help for substance use, problem gambling, and mental health for adults and teens in Washington state. The Helpline can assist family members in finding treatment centers for adults or teens, as well as provide information on community events and lectures that may be useful to parents. 1-866-789-1511