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On April 20, the cannabis community will be celebrating 4/20; a day in that began as a weed smoking moment of solidarity. As years went by, it’s eventually evolved into a day of awareness and myth busting. There’s still a lot of weed smoking, though.

Regardless of anyone’s personal stance on cannabis, everyone likely realizes that it’s a subject that can’t be ignored any longer. Now that science has proven that weed isn’t as bad as we all thought, more states are decriminalizing and legalizing.

Popular culture has been absorbing more pot than we’ve seen in decades with Snoop and Martha Stewart’s Pot Luck Dinner Party to a hefty portion of VICE’s television programming. Even Spencer Gifts, a place once only known for fake poo and black lighting, is stocking their shelves with cannabis-themed merchandise. Commercially, weed is the new Air Jordan and there the question of whether parents need to start freaking out. Well, yes and no.

Yes, because with more exposure comes the potential for younger folks to become interested. According to a recent study, cannabis experimentation is starting as young as the eighth grade. Additional research shows that teens don’t see weed as being harmful. Remember all those weed horror stories our elders told us? Today’s kids ain’t buying it. Tweens and teens are a lot more savvy with all the cutting-edge communication technology, so it’s going to take more than exaggerated urban folklore to rattle these youngins.

It should be noted that weed use in adolescents and young adults can stunt brain development, cause a number of psychological dysfunctions and damage short-term memory.  It’s absolutely clear is that kids should not be smoking cannabis. You’re not going to give your child a shot of scotch after a rough day at elementary school, so don’t allow the crib to become a competitor for the High Times Cannabis Cup just because weed in the long run is less harmful than booze.

The good news is that we don’t have to beg Iyanla Vanzant to fix our lives yet. In states like Colorado where marijuana is legal, there has been a reported dip in teen usage. I’d like to think that’s because of two things. First you have the “So what?” factor.

Going back to teens’ relaxed view on weed, there’s no rebellious excitement, thus no interest. It’s just one of the those things people do. The other reason is that smoking weed is an old people thing now. It’s right up there with Pink Champale and Facebook, completely teen repellant.

Marijuana just isn’t as coolness monster it once was, us grown folks killed it while coming up with old rappers we think are better than Kendrick Lamar. But that doesn’t mean tween and teens won’t try it anyway. So it’s better to have a truthful talk with your kids sooner than later and arm them with some #facts instead of wild stories of faceless Just-Say-No poster children.

Larry Hester is a Brooklyn-born writer who’s written for Vibe, BET.com, The Source, Complex and more. He now resides in Newark, New Jersey with his wife and son. He welcomes any parenting advice or encouragement. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter @almostcooldad.

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