If your teen or tween has been arrested for pot possession, you’re likely experiencing emotions ranging from disappointment to anger to fear and more. While a pot possession charge is a serious matter, with the right precautions, this bump in the road isn’t destined to leave your child’s future in shambles.
For those parents hoping to adopt a respond-not-react approach, the following strategies can help protect your child’s rights, provide an appropriate level of support, and turn the situation into a teachable moment that hopefully leads to a brighter future.
Get in touch with a lawyer
Contact a lawyer who specializes in marijuana charges. Additionally, make sure the attorney understands the juvenile court system, which is different from the adult system.
Depending on the laws in your state and circumstances of arrest, your child could face anything from a non-criminal violation to a felony. A lawyer will help you understand what to expect and what options are available going forward.
Take the issue seriously
Fifty-four percent of marijuana users are parents. If you’re one of them, you might not feel especially concerned that your teen uses marijuana. However, don’t let your personal feelings on the issue cloud your judgment.
Any type of arrest or conviction can lead to long-term negative consequences. Your child might lose out on the opportunity to attend college or obtain certain types of jobs. They might also face fines or even jail time.
Don’t make light of the arrest or complain about how the laws in your state are unfair. Instead, you want to impress upon your child the importance of always following the law.
Talk to your teen
Don’t shut your teen out or overwhelm them with harsh lectures. Instead, sit down with them and ask why they felt compelled to use marijuana. Teens use marijuana for a variety of reasons, including:
- Experimentation or curiosity
- A desire to create an identity for themselves
- Peer pressure or peer acceptance (use is considered normal among their peers)
- Reduction of anxiety, boredom, or for other mood-related reasons
Understanding your teen’s interest in marijuana can help you develop strategies to help them avoid it. For example, if they’re using marijuana to combat anxiety, meeting with a therapist might be a healthier alternative.
Use first-time offender options if possible
Fortunately, many states have programs for youth and first-time offenders arrested for pot possession. If your teen meets the eligibility requirements, these programs are often a far better option than traditional sentencing. Most programs involve counseling, treatment, community service, and other alternatives to jail.
Your attorney can help you navigate your options in this regard. Keep in mind that these programs require total compliance. Explain to your teen the importance of following all the rules and staying out of trouble. Also, emphasize the need for them to maintain a positive attitude.
If your child is arrested for pot possession, it’s natural to feel fearful for their future. Fortunately, you can take steps to minimize long-term repercussions without removing consequences entirely. A marijuana arrest can act as a catalyst for your teen to change negative behaviors and move forward on a more positive path.