Editorial: Having the pot talk

Editorial: Having the pot talk

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Over time, parents have learned to have conversations with their kids about drug use — whether they should not use at all or to use responsibly.

With New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) stating his hope to pass legislation to legalize recreational marijuana during his recent 2019 State of the State address — something that has been in the works for years — we think the time is right to discuss marijuana use in the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol.

While laws will likely prevent minors from buying the drug, legalizing means, in general, it will be easier to find, and parents may need to remind teenagers that just because something is for sale, just as with other drugs, it doesn’t mean they can or should purchase it.

Of course, what’s available at parties always comes into play. Many times, parents may have the talk about alcohol with their children, stressing that their judgment can easily be impaired after only a drink or two, but do they include that smoking a joint can do the same? Just like with alcohol, it’s not safe to drive a car or operate machinery after using marijuana, as it can impair judgment, motor coordination and reaction time.

The sage advice from parents that they would rather have their children wake them in the middle of the night with a phone call asking to be picked up at a party than having them get behind the wheel after drinking — or in a car with someone who has been — would apply to marijuana use as well. Besides waking up mom or dad, there are always the options of sleeping in the house where the party is taking place, getting a ride from a designated driver, or getting a cab or Uber. That’s a golden rule that even adults need to abide by as driving while impaired by a drug in New York state can lead to a $500 to $1,000 fine, a license suspension for at least six months and a possible one-year jail term. If marijuana is legalized, being over the age limit will mean smoking or eating edible cannabis will become a choice, rather than a secretive, unlawful vice.

And if recreational use of pot becomes legal, due to the danger of impairment, despite the new law, many employers may still have random drug testing — something for people to consider as they seek employment.

If state officials legalize the recreational use of marijuana, there will be something else in common with cigarettes. While many may think smoking a joint doesn’t cause the same health problems as cigarettes, according to the American Lung Association, smoking marijuana can still pose a risk to lung health.

To help with discussions about pot use, residents can find out what’s on the minds of others Feb. 25 when the Suffolk County Legislature invites people to share their thoughts about legalizing recreational marijuana at a public hearing at the William H. Rogers Building in Smithtown. We at TBR News Media will be there.

With the possibility of New York becoming the 11th state to legalize recreational use of marijuana, it’s time for parents to get ahead of any problems by discussing drug use with their children.