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Guest Opinion

Could 4/20 Day be influencing youth to use marijuana?

Marijuana is legal in Oregon for medical and recreational use. 4/20 celebrations are large events promoting the industry and its products. Cannabis companies use this day to market and sell their products, similar to alcohol companies using The Super Bowl or St. Patrick’s Day.

The recreational marijuana industry has grown significantly, and its marketing has evolved. 4/20 events like The Cannabis Cup are ideal opportunities to sell and market products. Celebrities, influencers, and businesses push their products and brands, reaching many different age groups.

In the digital age, it is hard to ignore the 4/20 influence on youth. Parents should have constructive conversations with their kids about marijuana and its associated risks.

“Age matters the first time someone uses marijuana. The teen brain is actively developing and continues to develop until age 25,” said Marcel Gemme of

In Oregon, roughly 11% of 12 to 17-year-olds report using drugs in the last month. Among them, 94% reported using marijuana in the last month, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics.

The short and frequent discussions that parents have with their kids about marijuana have a real tangible impact on their choices. Consider some of the following tips:

• Lots of little talks and speaking often is more effective than one big talk. This also helps to build trust and strong relationships.

• When speaking about marijuana, make your views and rules clear, but reinforce why they should avoid the drug.

• Avoid lecturing, using scare tactics, and threatening. Be a reliable source of factual information.

• Listen to their opinions about marijuana, and answer their questions; the conversation goes both ways.

• It’s ok to disapprove of underage marijuana use, drinking, and illegal drug use. Send a clear and strong message.

• Always show genuine concern for their health, wellness, and success.

• Lead by example; actions speak louder than words.

These conversations go a long way in preventing drug use altogether. Teens are also more likely to avoid drug and alcohol use when they have a strong, trusting relationship with their parents.

There are adverse effects associated with marijuana use at this age. THC has addictive properties that young developing brains are more susceptible to. Adverse effects can include difficulty thinking and problem-solving, problems with memory and learning, reduced coordination, difficulty maintaining attention, and issues with school and social life. It will also increase mental health and addiction risks.

4/20 celebrations are no longer counter-culture protests. It’s a massive commercial showing of products, which is a result of legalization, which was inevitable. Parents should stay aware and make a point of having constructive conversations with their kids about marijuana and all the risks.

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.


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