Legalizing marijuana is a contentious issue.
Both advocates and opponents of making the drug available for either medical or recreational use have information that supports their claims.
There is an increasing number of states that say marijuana - even though it is still considered illegal in the eyes of the federal government - is legal and can be used by residents.
But no matter what the laws are in your state or the status of marijuana, both sides of the issue say it is important to talk to your kids.
Take the heart of the Midwest as an example.
In Colorado, one of the pioneering states on this issue, marijuana is completely legal.
Moving east from there, Oklahoma and Kansas still side with the federal government; the drug is completely illegal in all of its forms - medical and recreational.
Missouri, on the other hand, falls on several lists of states where the drug could be decriminalized within the next year.
It is not just the states surrounding the Kansas City metro that fall into a technicolor map of differing laws and regulations.
The entire country is something different and experts say your kids will need help sifting through the issue.
“It always helps to get out there and talk to the kids.” That is what Lacey Daly, the School Resource Officer at Shawnee Mission East said about talking to kids.
And she isn’t alone.
“Kids are not stupid,” said Jen Schokley with New Approach Missouri, a group advocating in Missouri to get a medical marijuana question on an upcoming ballot.
When asked about the best way to get information, Schokley said to turn to the internet.
So, we went to Google to get us started and after nearly eight hours of searching, we went down a deep rabbit-hole of conflicting research.
Although there is a plethora of information that supports both sides of the argument, across the board experts say the same thing:
Teenagers are trying marijuana.
With nearly 64 percent of the country supporting legalization in some form, what are parents supposed to tell their kids about a drug the federal government says is not legal?
Daly says, from her perspective, the answer is simple.
“What it comes down to is the fact that we are in Kansas and marijuana is still illegal here in the state of Kansas.”
She acknowledges that doesn’t mean marijuana isn’t used in the state or that kids won’t be exposed to the drug.
Daly reiterates that parents need to be open and talk to their kids.
“We always just encourage them to have an open dialogue,” she said. “They also just need to hear some of the facts sometimes.”
During our dive for help, we found a video opinion column from Elizabeth D’Amico.
She is a mother of two and a senior behavioral scientist at Rand Corporation.
According to her biography, she specializes in interventions for teenagers.
D’Amico lives in California and says the billboards on the side of the highway and advertisements make her kids very curious.
“As always, it’s best to give balanced, honest answers based on facts,” is her advice for talking to kids.
But, like other experts we saw, she did not expand into her own views about the drug. Only encouraged parents to seek facts.
While teens in the metro area won’t see any local advertisements for marijuana social media is different.
Both Daly and Schokley say talking to your kids about what they see on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and more is important.
“I think it has a big impact. Kids are on social media all the time,” Daly said.
Instagram and Facebook have community policies about illegal activities.
Instagram says even if certain drugs are legal in the area where you are posting, an account that has illegal drugs goes against community policies and that the account will be taken down.
Facebook disabled a new payment function so people can not pay for illegal things through the site.
But, as fast as social media moves to oversee these pages, people selling move just as fast to keep pages active.
Daly said there is really only one thing you can do as a parent.
“Ask to see their pages.”
Although Shockley is an advocate for medical marijuana, she says there is a very clear bottom line for parents to adhere to.
“It’s still not legal for them to do it.”
Now, all of this may become less clear-cut in the near future.
In Missouri, the initiative Shockley is working on is close to getting enough signatures for the medical marijuana question to be put on an upcoming ballot.
In Kansas, however, the drug remains illegal in all of its forms.
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