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Parents are finding it more difficult to have discussions with their children about why they shouldn’t use drugs, as a growing number of states are allowing medical marijuana, or considering legalizing recreational use of the drug, the Associated Press reports.

Colorado and Washington state will vote on legalizing recreational use of marijuana for adults on November 6. Currently, 17 states have legalized medical marijuana. More than a dozen states, and many cities, no longer have criminal penalties for small-scale possession of marijuana, or have made it a low-priority crime for law enforcement.

Parent-child conversations about marijuana “have become extraordinarily complicated,” said Stephen Pasierb, President of The Partnership at Drugfree.org, a national non-profit organization helping parents and families solve the problem of teen substance abuse. 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.”

Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which promotes marijuana legalization, said that since today’s parents are more likely than in the past to have tried the drug themselves, they are finding conversations with their children “are becoming a lot more real.” He told the AP, “Parents know a lot more about what they’re talking about, and kids probably suspect that their parents did this when they were younger and didn’t get in trouble with drugs. There’s still hypocrisy, but the level of honesty and frankness in the parent-child dialogue about marijuana is increasing every year.”

A survey released last month by The Partnership at Drugfree.org suggests teen marijuana use has become a normalized behavior. Only 26 percent agree with the statement, “In my school, most teens don’t smoke marijuana,” down from 37 percent in 2008.


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