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Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These pictures show marijuana, also known as cannabis or weed, in varying stages of growth, processing, and use.

You may be concerned about plants you find growing in and around your home. Or, you may wonder whether what you discovered in your child's room is marijuana or indicates your child may be using marijuana. Even if you live in a jurisdiction where marijuana is legal, there are age restrictions and your child can end up on the wrong side of the law. You should prepare to have a conversation with your child about the risks involved in using or selling marijuana when underage. If you find plants around your home that look similar to the marijuana plant in the photo, someone in your household is trying to grow their own weed. The plants have changed considerably in recent decades as they have been bred to produce more buds. If you see plants like this growing around your home, chances are they did not just pop-up in the wild—they were purposely cultivated.

Cannabis plants have a palmate leaf with serrated leaflets. While there are plants with similar leaves, the serration pattern for Cannabis is distinctive. Marijuana is dried and chopped up to prepare it for use and sale. If your child is using marijuana, you may be likely to find rolled joints of marijuana cigarettes. Your child may claim that these are hand-rolled tobacco cigarettes, which would also be a concern. You may find a small amount of marijuana your child has acquired for personal use to smoke. It is probably readily available in your community. You may also find larger quantities of marijuana in a plastic zip-lock bag. You might find smaller plastic bags with residue inside. This can trigger concerns that your child is transporting or selling marijuana rather than obtaining it for personal use. Marijuana buds are higher in THC than other parts of the plant and are sold at a premium. As marijuana has been increasingly bred to produce more buds, you may find this type of marijuana in your home. It is probably much more potent than the average street-grade weed. If you look closely at a marijuana bud, you will see the fine "hairs" and leaves that make up the bud after it is dried. If you find a larger quantity of processed marijuana buds in your home, someone either has an expensive habit or they are selling weed to their friends. If you see this many marijuana plants growing indoors, you have stumbled upon a major indoor marijuana grow operation. Leave the scene immediately and call 9-1-1 if it is not a legal operation. Before you force your child into a professional drug treatment program that you may not be able to afford and they may not even need, take a step back and try to evaluate the situation. It may be that your child has experimented with marijuana use or tried it a couple of times with their friends. That happens a lot more these days than it may have happened when you were in school. Forty-four percent of all students have tried weed by 12th grade according to the National Institutes of Health.   That means that your child probably has friends who are smoking marijuana or at least know someone who is. Your child's involvement in marijuana may have just been a passing curiosity, or it may be more than that. Before you react, you need to assess just what your child's level of involvement is with marijuana.

The best advice available is the simplest—ask your child. Whether or not adolescents become involved in drugs—or stay involved—may be related to their parents' attitudes about drug use. Having a matter-of-fact, rational discussion with your child about marijuana may be the best way to approach the situation. Of course, your child's use of marijuana may be more involved than simple experimentation, depending on how much of the drug you found. If so, they may not be as willing to talk to you about it.

In this case, you will need to educate your child on the legal risks of transporting or selling marijuana. Even as new technologies allow manufacturers to create numerous product types that deliver the benefits of cannabis, traditional flower smoking remains the most common and preferred method of consumption around the world. Flower, also called “bud,” refers to the smokeable part of the cannabis plant that has gone through the cultivation, harvest, drying, and curing process. Cannabis flower continues to be a popular choice for its versatility, offering numerous methods of consumption, such as being smoked using a pipe or bong, or by rolling it into a joint or blunt.

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