What if my 16 year old is using marijuana and driving?


Q.    Hello, I am dating someone who has 3 teens.  The girl (16) recently told me she left some marijuana in her car and thank goodness her mom didn’t see it.  After a few days I thought about it and decided to tell her dad.  I have kept her other secrets, kissing boys, but this worries me. What if she is driving?  Was I wrong to break her confidence?


Last night, my 10th grade son called me drunk from a friend’s party and asked for a ride home.


Q. Our agreement was that I would supply the ride, no questions asked, which I did.  Well, now it’s the next day and I’m feeling angry about this turn of events.  How do I establish appropriate but meaningful consequences if I catch my child drinking?

- Curious


How can I get my daughter to be a safe driver?


She just got her license and I’m scared!

- Worried Parent



A.   Tough call, but no, I don’t think you were wrong to tell her dad about her marijuana use.  I would have suggested that you let her know ahead of time that you felt you had a duty to do so because of your concern about her.  I would have also advised you to invite her to join you in th conversation so you could all discuss it rationally and calmly together.  Your fears are well-founded.  Data from a Teens Today survey of middle and high school students conducted by SADD reveals that:

  • At lease one in three 7th-12th graders has used or is using drugs (36 percent)
  • The majority of licensed teen drivers who use drugs regularly also drug and drive (68 percent)
  • Among teens, driving after drugging is more prevalent (68 percent of those who use drugs regularly) than is driving after drinking (47 percent of those who drink regularly)
  • More than one third of teens who are using drugs regularly are not concerned about riding in a car with a driver who is using drugs (38 percent)

Unfortunately, many adults are unaware of the degree to which teens have access to – and use – marijuana.

And there are simply others who seem unconcerned, perhaps underestimating the potency of today’s weed (estimated to be ten to twenty times stronger than the marijuana of yesteryear) or the possible consequences of its use.  Your boyfriend’s daughter is lucky you are not one of them – though she may not realize it now.  Marijuana is, in fact, addictive and, much like alcohol and other drugs, it directly affects the brain, impairing the ability of young people to think, learn and grow .. and all of this at a time when significant cognitive reorganization is taking place.  In addition, clinicians observing kids on pot note increased apathy, loss of ambition, diminished ability to pursue long-term plans, and a decline in school performance.  Marijuana is also used by more than a few teens to avoid dealing with, or to mask, important emotions brought about by a lot of “first-time” situations, thus deferring problem solving and delaying healthy emotional development.  I would encourage your boyfriend (and you) to explain to her the physical effects of marijuana and other drugs, their impact on driving, and the legal, social, and emotional risks involved with their use.  Teens who have open and honest communication with their parents are more likely to make good choices and to report that their parents’ methods of preventing them from using drugs are effective.

A. If you agreed to the “no questions asked” approach you should stick to it, at least this time. However, you may want to sit down and have a discussion with your child, clearly explaining how you feel.  You could say that you will pick him up without asking any questions, but you will have a discussion about it the following day when you’ve both had a chance to think about it.

- SADD Student

A.  The good news, Worried Parent, is that you can really make a difference here.  According to the SADD/Liberty Mutual Teen Driving Study, high school students overwhelmingly say their parents are or will be the biggest influence on how they drive.  Check out these stats:


High school and middle school students overwhelmingly say their parents are or will be the biggest influence on their driving behaviors.  However, adult driving habits, as observed by their teens, suggest that parents are modeling risky behaviors.

  • Almost two thirds of high school teens (62%) say their parents talk on a cell phone while driving and of high school drivers, 62% say they talk on a cell phone while driving,
  • Almost half (48%) say their parents speed, and a startling 67% of high school drivers say they speed
  • One third (31%) say their parents do not wear safety belts, and approximately one third, 33%, of high school drivers say they don’t wear their safety belts.