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J Child Fam Stud. 2019 Feb;28(2):587-598. doi: 10.1007/s10826-018-1288-9. Epub 2019 Jan 16.

Parenting Practices in the Context of Legal Marijuana: Voices from Seattle Parents.

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Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.



This study examined marijuana-related parenting attitudes, behaviors, and challenges in the context of nonmedical marijuana legalization in Washington State.


Qualitative data were collected via 6 focus groups with a total of 54 parents of preteen and teenage children, following the opening of the first marijuana retail store in Seattle in 2014. A structured interview protocol was used to ask parents about their marijuana-related parenting behaviors and about information, skills, or strategies that parents might find helpful while raising children in a state where nonmedical marijuana use is legal for adults. Transcripts were analyzed using thematic content analysis with NVivo software.


Findings indicate that most parents talked to their children about marijuana, communicating rules and information about the effects of the drug. Although most parents felt that marijuana use by underage youth was not acceptable, many recognized that it was something teens would likely experiment with. Most parents set guidelines about marijuana in their households, but several faced challenges monitoring their children's behavior (e.g., use of edibles), imposing consequences when children used marijuana, reconciling societal and personal norms, and deciding whether or not to disclose their own use. Parents expressed that they would benefit from learning strategies to deal with these challenges, including factual information and parenting skills, through programs offered in schools or community settings.


Results have implications for future research that seeks to inform prevention program development and shape policies attuned to the needs of parents.


Marijuana; adolescents; focus groups; marijuana legalization; parenting

[Available on 2020-02-01]

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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