COMMENTARY: Parents should be aware of the influence 4/20 celebrations have on young people

The most common reasons why teens try marijuana is because of pressure from peers and others, self-medicating and escape.


The 4/20 celebration is another opportunity for companies to promote the industry and its products, much like beer and liquor companies do with St. Patrick's Day.

This means adolescents and young adults are exposed to a heavy influence to try cannabis. Parents of teens, especially, should be aware of this influence. Marijuana has a significant negative impact on a teen's life. The teen brain is actively developing and continues to develop until around age 25.

Fortunately, there are constructive ways to talk to kids about drug use while also being equipped to notice the signs. As parents, a little awareness goes a long way and may prevent a teen from using marijuana.

"The 4/20 celebrations are a big day for the marijuana industry, especially as the legalization of recreational cannabis is slowly making its way across the nation," said Marcel Gemme, owner and founder of

In Minnesota, the marijuana legalization bill recently cleared additional Minnesota House-Senate committees. Yet, the legalization of the drug does not slow down use. Statistically, 8.15% of 12 to 17 years olds in the state report using drugs in the last month. Over 80% of these teens report using marijuana in the last month.


The early conversations that parents have with their teens are critical. The short, frequent discussions can have a tangible impact on a teen's decisions about marijuana.

  • Parents should talk often and build an open and trusting relationship. Lots of little talks are more effective than one big talk.
  • Parents should also make their views and rules about marijuana clear. Discuss beliefs and opinions. Be honest and express a clear message, yet do not lecture or make threats.
  • Ask them questions about what they know about marijuana, listen to their opinions and answer their questions. The conversation goes both ways.
  • Lead by example; what parents do is just as important as what they say.
  • Provide factual information about the risks and dangers and be prepared to share personal experiences.

The most common reasons why teens try marijuana is because of pressure from peers and others, self-medicating and escape.
Unfortunately, the consequences can be life-changing. The adverse effects could include difficulty thinking and problem-solving, issues with memory and learning, reduced coordination, difficulty maintaining attention, and problems with school and social life. More seriously, it increases the risk of mental health issues and addiction.

The signs of marijuana use can be easy to spot. Some signs include red eyes, poor muscle coordination, increased appetite, delayed reaction time, anxiety, panic and a distinct smell left on clothes and the body.

Age matters for marijuana use just as it matters for alcohol use. For teens, there is plenty of reason to worry. It does make a difference how young a person is when they start using marijuana, namely in terms of developing an addiction to other substances later in life.

As 4/20 celebrations have become more commercialized and have moved away from being a counterculture protest, the exposure to teens and young adults increases. Also, as marijuana becomes legal in more states, its availability to teens will likely increase. Parents must stay aware of the influence and be prepared to have ongoing conversations about marijuana.

Jody Boulay is a mother of two with a passion for helping others. She currently works as a Community Outreach Coordinator for to help spread awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

What To Read Next
Get Local