For years, we’ve talked about the danger to children of secondhand tobacco smoke. It makes asthma worse, increases the risk of respiratory and ear infections — and even increases the risk of sudden death in infants. We’ve had all sorts of educational campaigns for parents and caregivers, and have made some progress: between 2002 and 2015, smoking among parents of children less than 18 years old dropped from 27.6% to 20.2%. But now there is a new problem: secondhand marijuana smoke.
Studies show that when you are around someone who is smoking marijuana, the smoke gets into your system too. How much of it gets in depends on how close the person is, how many people are smoking and how much, how long you spend near them, and how much ventilation there is in the space. But research is clear that cannabinoids, the chemicals that cause the “high,” get into the bodies of people nearby — including children.
During the same time period that cigarette smoking around children came down more than 7%, marijuana smoking around children went up nearly 5%. With more and more states legalizing marijuana for recreational use, that number is likely to continue going up.
This is not good. Besides the fact that we don’t want children getting high, or exposed to the dangers of inhaled secondhand marijuana smoke, there is the additional concern about long-term effects on the brain. While research is still ongoing, there is evidence to suggest that when youth and young adults (whose brains are still developing) are exposed to marijuana, it may have permanent effects on executive function, memory, and even IQ.
This is not what we want for our children.
All the advice we give to parents who smoke tobacco applies to parents who smoke marijuana, including:
- The best thing for you and your child is to not smoke at all. Talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
- If you do smoke, don’t smoke around your child, ever.
- Even if your child isn’t around, don’t smoke somewhere they will be, like your home or your car. Smoke lingers.
- After you smoke, change your clothes and wash up. Again: smoke lingers.
As legal use of marijuana grows more common, we need to create the same kinds of rules and laws we’ve created to protect people from secondhand tobacco smoke.
Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s safe. And when we make choices that have risks, it’s not fair to impose those risks on other people — especially children, and especially when they could literally be harmed for the rest of their lives.
Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren
Philippians 2:5 ESV Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Jeremiah 33:3 ESV Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
Matthew 15:11 ESV It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
Colossians 3:1-2 ESV If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Proverbs 17:22 ESV A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Luke 21:34 ESV “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.
Proverbs 16:3 ESV Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Galatians 5:1 ESV For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
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