Grand Futures: Students encouraged to celebrate 4/20 sober |

Grand Futures: Students encouraged to celebrate 4/20 sober

With April 20 coming up Friday, it's a perfect time to remind parents, teachers and youth-workers that conversations around marijuana should be ongoing and should start before they are exposed to it by their peers. April 20th, or 4/20, is the unofficial cultural holiday to indulge in the use of marijuana.

Because it is widely celebrated, it's a vulnerable time for youth. Communication is vital, and parents actually have more influence than they may think.

Not only are our youth smoking marijuana, but they are eating, vaping and dabbing it.

Dabbing is where heavily concentrated marijuana is smoked on an extremely hot metal object that has been heated by a blowtorch. Marijuana can even be injected into popular tobacco vaping devices such as the JUUL e-cigarette, which looks similar to a USB drive.

According to the Marijuana Education Initiative, adolescent brains undergo specific transitions in their prefrontal cortex and limbic system. These areas of the brain and transitions are responsible for the development of self-regulation, emotions, behaviors and motivation. Toxic substances such as drugs, alcohol and tobacco can harm the formation of these areas of the brain which are continuing to develop until age 25.

Co-founder of MEI Molly Lotz advises, "Inform yourself before having the conversation with your child about marijuana use."

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Having the facts and keeping your conversation authentic is the best way to get through to kids about substance abuse. Try to stay away from fear-based tactics, as they’ve been proven ineffective and often have the opposite result. It is advised to have ongoing conversations and provide reasons why marijuana use could be harmful and negatively impact future goals and aspirations.

With the knowledge of how youth are consuming marijuana comes the responsibility for parents to know the various forms of paraphilia and where to look for it in their child’s environment. MEI provides a free and downloadable parent guide on marijuana that provides facts and talking points to start the conversation and how to keep it going. is another resource for tips and tools to talk to kids about drug, alcohol and tobacco use, as well as facts about various substances. It is advised to start the conversation about two years before peer exposure, which can vary depending on the community.

For Routt County, it is suggested to start the discussion in the summer months between fourth and fifth grade.

Tips to keep the conversation going (

• Talk through scenarios. Provide kids with a good example of when they may encounter alcohol or drugs — and peer pressure — can help them think through how to respond.

• Listen with an open mind. Embrace your child's point of view and taking it seriously encourages them to see that your advice is based on true understanding.

• Be clear. Clearly establish that you will not tolerate certain behaviors that can put their health and safety at risk.

• Help them identify healthy alternative activities. Encourage your child to surround themselves with positive peer influences and activities provides them with a like minded support group to turn to when faced with a high pressure situation.

Best Joint in Town

Looking for a safe, sober and free 4/20 event for your kids? Join Sk8 Church at 6 to 10 p.m. for a ’90's themed"4/20 Bash. The event includes a munchie bar, live music and, of course, a skate competition, open to teens 12 and older. The event will be held at Sk8 Church, 2851 Riverside Plaza, in partnership with Grand Futures, Music with a Vision, Backdoor Grill, Milk Run and Urbane.

Lexi Miller is the Tri-County administrator at Grand Futures.

If you go:

What: “Best Joint in Town” 4/20 sober bash

When: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 20

Where: Sk8 Church, 2851 Riverside Plaza