Doreen Fournier, M.S.W., program manager of Maine Substance Use Prevention Services (SUPS) on the University of New England’s Portland Campus, has penned an op-ed in the Portland Press Herald encouraging parents to set clear expectations about marijuana for their children as Maine begins its first adult-use recreational sales of the substance.
SUPS is is part of Maine Prevention Services, an initiative of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention that focuses on preventing underage substance use and misuse of substances by young adults.
In her Maine Voices piece, “Keep pot away from young Mainers as stores start selling it to adults,” Fournier argues that, though marijuana is legal for use by persons over age 21 in Maine, it is important to treat the drug like any age-restricted substance by storing it safely and modeling healthy behaviors to keep young Mainers safe – especially as attitudes toward marijuana continue to change.
Fournier writes that, “more and more youth in Maine report that marijuana use is not harmful and that there is little to no risk in using marijuana once or twice a week.” She pointed out, however, that, “we know that brain development continues until the age of 25, and substance use, including marijuana use, can negatively affect learning, motivation and mood. Delaying the age at which someone starts using substances is essential and decreases the likelihood that they will develop a substance use disorder later in life.”
Fournier recommends parents talk with their children and set clear expectations about marijuana use.
“We want a bright future for our young Mainers, starting with a conversation early on about substance use,” she says. “Setting clear expectations about use, providing concrete strategies, like refusal skills and establishing consequences, help youth make better decisions about marijuana use.”
In addition, Fournier says it is important to keep marijuana stored out of sight and in a locked cabinet to reduce the risk of accidental use and make it harder for young people to try marijuana at home.