Did you know that there is a day this month that is going to be recognized and celebrated by many individuals? You are probably saying to yourself “of course I do Coach, Easter is one of the more important days for a Christian.” Well, that is correct, but, unfortunately, that is not the day that I am talking about. The day I am talking about is April 20th (4.20), also known as “Weed Day” – yes, you read that correctly, “Weed Day.” I know, you are thinking “come on Coach there is not a day to recognize Weed.” Well, actually there is.
There are a number of myths and rumors about how this day started, some more “glamorous” than others. The true story according to the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/20/420-meaning-the-true-stor_n_543854.html) is that a group of five high school friends met at 4:20PM every day, on a search for a hidden marijuana crop. They started using the code word 420 anytime they wanted to meet to smoke pot (of course teachers and parents had no clue what they were talking about). The term quickly spread (interestingly enough with the help of the Grateful Dead) and the term has now become known nationally and internationally and the date, 4/20, a celebrated day by many teens and adults alike. What once was “just” known for marijuana use has not turned into what I’ll call “drug day” where individuals make it a point to use drugs that day (especially, but not only at 4:20).
You may be asking why I’m sharing this story with you. My main point and objective is to raise awareness; both for parents who know that their teens use drugs and those who are “sure” that they do not. I know we all would love to think that our kids don’t recognize or celebrate “National Weed Day”. The truth is – many do. Even teens who normally don’t do drugs will smoke pot on 4/20 just to fit in and because they view the date as an event not to be missed. And those that do use drugs – well, for them this is their “special” day. The age of the internet has only increased the spreading and sharing of the story and reinvigorated the “importance” or significance of April 20th.
So I’m asking you to keep your eyes and ears open. Pay attention more this day than others to what your child is saying and texting (or even what they are searching for on the internet). Make sure you know exactly what they are going to be doing that day (especially at 4:20). If you hear your teen mentioning 420 let them know that you are aware of its meaning. Share with them the perils of smoking marijuana. For example, did you know that marijuana is considered to be a “gateway drug” – one that is oftentimes just the beginning of more serious drug use (i.e. leads to using meth and other drugs)? That is in addition to the dangers of marijuana itself such as depression and suicidal thoughts.
Let them know that what now may seem fun, cool and cool can have serious, long term implications on their future. Maybe make it a point to have a discussion that day with your teen about the importance of staying drug-free. I know that for many these types of discussions can be awkward and uncomfortable but taking the step to make you temporarily uncomfortable may actually change the direction your teen may go; and wouldn’t that be worth it?