Elizabeth D’Amico, a licensed clinical psychologist and senior behavioral scientist with the RAND Corporation, is the lead author of a new study about the impact of marijuana advertising on teens. But she’s also a mother of two teenagers, and she’s built a national reputation when it comes to advice about how parents should talk to their kids about pot.
Her first tip: Tell the whole truth, and not only part of it.
D’Amico has shared her thoughts about marijuana and juveniles in some high-profile places, including the Los Angeles Times, which published her op-ed on the subject in 2016, shortly before California okayed recreational cannabis sales, and PBS, where she starred in a 2017 segment. She doesn’t take a position about legalization for adults, but her messages are meant to discourage underage use based on scientific findings about the effects of cannabis on the developing brain.
“I think parents and teachers and care providers really need to be up on marijuana,” she allows. “Yes, there are medical benefits, but they’re benefits for adults. No medical benefits have been shown for adolescents. In fact, research shows that teens who initiate use early tend to have more problems in a variety of areas than teens who don’t use. So I try to give people talking points, because teens have questions about it.”
For example, she continues, “teens tend to perceive marijuana use as safer than alcohol use. Our research has shown this, and it’s because marijuana is touted as a medical prescription, which is very different from how alcohol is touted. So you have to explain the medical benefits — tell them, ‘Yes, we know it can help people with chemotherapy-induced nausea. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe for teens to use.'”
In her view, “it’s really important to talk about both sides so they understand what the medicinal piece means, and that recreational use is different than that. Plus, recreational is only legal for those over 21, just like alcohol, and recreational can be appropriate or not. It’s problematic when people drink and then get into a car and drive, and it’s the same if they use marijuana and then get into a car and drive. But other people might use marijuana in their home, and that’s okay, because it’s legal for adults.”
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Michael Roberts on Westword
Published: May 25, 2018
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News