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Parents are used to hearing their teens speak in code – from the trendy catchphrase of the week to the popular acronyms used for text messaging and online chatting. But one term that might come up more frequently this time of year is “420” (pronounced “four-twenty”).
Those familiar with popular drug culture might recognize the code as a reference to the annual pot-smoking holiday on April 20 (or 4-20). There are many theories explaining the origin of the term and the date – from the supposed number of active chemicals in marijuana to an alleged police crime code for drug arrests to the time of day a group of California teens congregated to smoke up in the 1960s.
Whatever the actual origins of 420, many teens now know April 20th as the day to smoke marijuana. So parents should be especially mindful of monitoring for drug use on this day in particular.
Learn more about the risks of marijuana.
Marijuana: Then and Now
So you tried pot at some point in your life and think you’ll feel like a hypocrite telling your teen not to use? Get over it. It’s important to talk about your experiences to help your children learn from them. Be honest and emphasize that this discussion is about your child’s future and not about your past. Marijuana today is more potent than it was a generation ago and more kids are using it at a younger age, when their bodies and minds are still developing. Talk to your teens. Kids who learn about marijuana and other drugs from their parents are less likely to use them.
How can you monitor for marijuana use? Follow these four easy steps:
1. Look online. Talk to your teen about pro-drug messages they might find on sites like Facebook and YouTube. Many teens form groups and recruit members online who are proponents of certain drugs or risky behaviors .
2. Listen for slang and look out for paraphernalia. If you hear terms like 420, bake, Mary, bud, blunt, etc., or see them in text messages, call your teen on it. Likewise if you see makeshift pipes or bongs disguised to look like harmless trinkets, it’s time for a larger discussion about drug use.
3. Ask who, what, where, and when. You should always know the details about your teen’s whereabouts, but pay special attention on April 20 as many teens plan to meet for the “holiday celebration.”
4. Watch and smell for signs of use. Red and bloodshot eyes are a symptom of marijuana use, so be on the lookout for recently opened eye drops. A distinct odor is another sign – even if your teen was just hanging out with other people who were smoking. If you detect smoke, alcohol, etc., on your teen’s breath or clothes, it’s time to talk about the dangers of such risky behaviors