For Parents

Results from the 2012 WA State Healthy Youth Survey show a relatively small yet gradual increase in cannabis use by youth over the past 8-10 years, especially amongst 12th graders. While most students do not use cannabis, roughly 1 in 5 10th graders and 1 in 4 12th graders said they had used cannabis in the past month.

The decrease in the number of students who see regular cannabis use as harmful or risky is concerning. History tells us that a decrease in the perception of risk tends to be followed by an increase in use. This could mean that cannabis use by youth will increase in the future.

Because brain development continues to occur until approximately age 25, parents should be concerned about youth cannabis use. Youth who use cannabis may have:

  • Increased difficulty with learning and memory
  • Distorted thinking and perception
    (exaggerated or irrational thoughts)
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression


Adolescents who begin using cannabis before the age of 14 are four times more likely to become addicted by the time they are adults.

The good news is that teens do listen to their parents. One of the key reasons they choose not to use drugs is because they know their parents don’t approve.

What Can I Do?

There are many resources available for parents that can help you:

  • Know the laws
  • Understand the health risks of youth cannabis use
  • Talk to your kids about cannabis
  • Recognize signs of cannabis use
  • Get help when needed

Resources for Parents

Washington State:

  • Know the Facts / What Parents Should Know (English version)
    (Also available in Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Laotian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese)
  • A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Underage cannabis Use
    (available in English and Spanish)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse website has the following available:

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, call:  WA Recovery Helpline at 1.866.789.1511.



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