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Easing of pot laws in U.S. states poses challenge for parents

  • This August 2011 photo provided by the family shows Sarena Haskins, center, with her children, Hannah, 12, at left, and Hayden, now 8, in Olympia, Wash. Sarena Haskins is a regular user of marijuana for medical reasons, as allowed by state law. But she is opposed to a measure on Washington’s Nov. 6 ballot that would legalize pot for recreational purposes, and advises Hannah not to experiment with it. (AP Photo/Kris Haskins)

DENVER — Michael Jolton was a young father with a 5-year-old son when Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2000. Now he's got three boys, the oldest near adulthood, and finds himself repeatedly explaining green-leafed marijuana ads and "free joint" promotions endemic in his suburban hometown.

"I did not talk to my oldest son about marijuana when he was 8 years old. We got to talk about fun stuff. Now with my youngest who's 8, we have to talk about this," said Jolton, a consultant from Lakewood.

A marijuana opponent with a just-say-no philosophy, Jolton, 48, is among legions of American parents finding the "drug talk" increasingly problematic as more states allow medical marijuana or decriminalize its use. Colorado and Washington state have measures on their Nov. 6 ballot that would go a further step and legalize recreational use of marijuana for adults.

Parent-child conversations about pot "have become extraordinarily complicated," said Stephen Pasierb, president of the Partnership at Drugfree.org, which provides resources for parents concerned about youth drug use.

Legalization and medical use of marijuana have "created a perception among kids that this is no big deal," Pasierb said. "You need a calm, rational conversation, not yelling and screaming, and you need the discipline to listen to your child."


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