With the wave of public approval for the legalization of marijuana sweeping the country, a new study shows that even parents who were once pot smokers want tough restrictions in place to protect their kids from the dangers of the drug. Two key restrictions most parents favor are:
- Make 21 the legal age for using pot
- Prohibit pot smoking in all public places where smoking is banned
The nationally representative online survey was conducted in March 2013 for the Partnership at Drugfree.org. The survey included 1,603 adults, 1,200 of whom were parents. Of the 1,200, 200 resided in Colorado and 200 in Washington State. In November 2012, both states legalized recreational marijuana use. “The reality is that marijuana is now legalized for recreational use in the states of Colorado and Washington and it’s clear that society’s views on marijuana are evolving dramatically,” said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. “This new research provides richer insight into what today’s parents believe about marijuana, their thoughts on legalization and the risks it may pose to adolescents. The data bring to life the fact that parents – including the large number who favor legalization – have serious expectations that legal marijuana will be regulated and restricted to protect kids and teens. Those expectations far exceed how legal marijuana is being implemented. So the fact remains, whether marijuana is legal or not, much more needs to be done to protect the health of our children.” The survey, titled “Marijuana: It’s Legal, Now What?” found broad support for the medicalization, decriminalization and legalization of marijuana across the country, at 70 percent, 50 percent, and 40 percent, respectively. Among parents surveyed, the percentages were only slightly lower. About half of the parents surveyed said they had used marijuana. Sixty-two percent of Colorado parents admitted to prior pot use. What concerns parents most about their children using marijuana are the risks for developmental consequences and potential impact on their kids’ future. In Colorado, 85 percent of parents believe that marijuana can result in strong negative consequences on the children’s still-developing brains. Eighty-five percent also agree that marijuana use at a young age can hurt school performance and impact a child’s future. Other survey findings:
- A majority of parents said it should be illegal to provide marijuana to underage children at home (90 percent of Colorado parents agree, 91 percent of Washington State parents agree).
- More than 80 percent of parents (87 percent of Colorado parents) say that “marijuana advertising should still be banned.”
- When forced to choose, parents identified the No. 1 place where marijuana advertising should be permitted as “nowhere.”
- Parents believe they are the most effective source to provide accurate and useful information about pot to their children, helping them to make informed and positive choices. Over 60 percent of Colorado and Washington State parents say they are the most effective information source about marijuana, compared with 16 percent (in each state) identifying schools as the most effective.
- More than 60 percent of parents believe their own best sources of obtaining information about marijuana is doctors and medical professionals, compared with 46 percent for the Internet (48 percent in Colorado, 47 percent in Washington State).
With 90 percent of addictions beginning in adolescence, the results of this survey show parents have serious expectations that legal marijuana should be regulated and restricted, in order to protect children and teens. The problem is that these expectations far exceed current measures on the implementation of legal marijuana. The call to action here is clear: Much more needs to be done on the part of lawmakers to strict controls on legal marijuana in place.