Marijuana usage among youth group students is a thing and has been for a long time, yet in my 11 years of full-time youth ministry I have addressed it directly with youth exactly one time. Cultural attitudes and laws are changing though, and the need for tools to address the subject at church feels urgent (I first wrote about this five years ago).
The pot talk I’m forming in my head has four foci: health, the law, social justice, and discipleship (and, yes, the first three all bear on the fourth).
Marijuana is not good for teenagers. Full stop. The CDC says so unambiguously. The cognitive and social risks are high, even when the quality of the product can be trusted (which it often can’t).
Though many states have legalized marijuana (including the one I live in), it is still illegal for minors.
And yet the legal consequences for teens breaking marijuana law can most certainly be assumed to be applied unequally. To put it bluntly: white teens are at less risk of serious criminal consequences. The Colorado Department of Public Safety said as much in 2016. Enforcement is unjust.
Finally, recreational use of substances that harm teen’s health, violate the law, and perpetuate injustice shouldn’t be winked at in youth ministry. Marijuana does not aid discipleship and faith formation in teenagers.
If you have tools for addressing this subject in a church context, please share them.