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Parents and Adults

The state of Alaska is committed to providing parents, guardians and adults with information about how to protect youth from marijuana.

Do not use marijuana around chidren. Smoking marijuana can expose them to harmful smoke.[1] Kids also tend to get into marijuana accidentally after it is legalized.[1]

Talk to adolescents and teenagers about marijuana to help them better understand the risks. According to the 2013 Alaska Youth Risk Behavior study, one in five high school students currently uses marijuana.[10]


Talk about Marijuana

 Marijuana and Adolescents Fact Sheet (pdf)


With Your Children

Talking to your child about drugs and alcohol can be difficult. Now that marijuana is legal for adults in Alaska, it may be the right time to have this conversation with your child.

Listen carefully and stay positive. Keep the conversation open so that your children can come to you with questions. Knowing they can talk to you helps them make good choices.

Talking with young people about their goals and dreams helps them feel more connected to caring adults. Be honest with them about the risks and consequences. Explain how staying out of trouble and doing well in school can help them reach their goals and prevent them from breaking school-related rules and Alaska laws.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the following are common signs to look for if parents suspect their child is using marijuana.[8] He or she might:

  • Seem dizzy or uncoordinated
  • Seem silly and giggly for no reason
  • Have very red, bloodshot eyes
  • Have a hard time remembering things that just happened
  • Be in possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, including pipes and rolling papers
  • Have an odor on their clothes and in their bedroom
  • Use incense and other deodorizers
  • Use eye drops
  • Have clothing, jewelry or posters that promote drug use
  • Use money in unexplained ways

The Role of Protective Factors in Preventing Youth Use of Marijuana:

Individual, relationship, community and society level protective factors play an important role in preventing youth from using marijuana. For example, resiliency has been shown to be an individual-level protective factor, whereas family factors such as connectedness is a strong relationship-level protective factor for youth marijuana use prevention. Community and societal level protective factors include factors related to economic stability, social status, and community connectedness.

To learn more, please see the following research:

Parents' Guide: Talking with Youth About Marijuana

Download a guide to help you talk to your teen about marijuana (developed by Seattle Children's Hospital and adapted for Alaska with their permission):

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has developed these resources for parents on preventing underage use of marijuana:

Additional Resources for Teens


With Your Loved Ones

Watching someone you love become addicted to alcohol or drugs can be difficult. What do you do? A critical first step is to become informed about marijuana and addiction. Offer support to your loved one and find the help he or she needs. Talk to your health care provider and visit the Getting Treatment section for resources and treatment centers.


With Your Patients

With research on the impacts of marijuana use still needed, health care providers can expect questions from patients about safe use for medical and non-medical marijuana.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has published the Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding fact sheet. It contains information for patients about the risks of marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, including health effects. More recommendations from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists can be found in the Marijuana Use During Pregnancy and Lactation report. A summary of cannabis-related disorders and possible symptoms is available here.

If you as a health care provider have a suspicion of abuse or neglect (i.e., that the health or welfare of a child is threatened), it is your duty as a mandatory reporter to report child abuse or neglect.

You can learn more about the signs of child abuse and neglect from the Alaska Office of Children’s Services. Call the Alaska Child Abuse Hotline with suspected abuse or neglect concerns: 1-800-478-4444, or email them at If you are unsure if marijuana use is a concern for the welfare of a child, contact your local Office of Children’s Services directly to ask questions.



Safe Storage & Accessibility

Parents and adults need to make sure their marijuana is stored safely away from children of all ages. Colorado, another state that legalized marijuana for personal use, has seen an increase in the number of children under 9 years old who have been to the emergency room or hospitalized from possibly getting into marijuana products.[1] Help prevent children from accidentally consuming marijuana by storing your marijuana products securely in the home.

How should I store my marijuana?

For proper safety, avoid use of marijuana around children, in any form. To avoid accidents, all marijuana-containing products should be:

  • Out of sight
  • Out of reach
  • Clearly labeled
  • Stored in a child-resistant container
  • Kept in a locked cabinet or box

How you store marijuana should change as children get older. Safe storage around young children may not stop older children or teens.

Poison Help 1-800-222-1222 

If children eat or drink marijuana by accident, it can make them very sick. They may have problems walking or sitting up, have a hard time breathing, or start to become sleepy.[1] If you are concerned that your child has consumed marijuana by accident, experts are available at the poison control hotline to answer your questions: 1-800-222-1222. Calling is free and you will be helped quickly. If your child is starting to show concerning symptoms or you are worried about a serious reaction, call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room right away.



Click here for a list of all references.