This is extracted from an opinion column in The Bellingham Herald. The column tracks information / evidence to reach its conclusions. Funny how two can walk the same path and arrive at different destinations, isn’t it? The author of the column likes Initiative 502 for what it does in a straightforward way. Saying that, I am not so sure he likes you and me. Still, we haven’t met. I’m very nice once you get to know me.
“But adult [marijuana] use is not the chief issue with marijuana. People who get past high school before they try it are unlikely to become compulsive users. For juveniles, the odds are much worse. Any psychoactive drug – including alcohol – tends to have a much greater long-term impact on adolescents than on adults.
It’s a matter of brain development. Kids who get in the habit of smoking dope at, say, 15 often become heavy users because their brains get wired to crave it. Compulsive marijuana use is damaging. It can derail educations, jobs, relationships, emotional maturity – life in general.
There are other threats. Considerable research has linked adolescent marijuana use to early-onset schizophrenia. A newly released study, which followed more than 1,000 New Zealanders for 38 years from youth through adulthood, found significant IQ impairment among heavy users who started smoking pot at an early age.
I-502 again deserves credit for recognizing the problem. It prohibits anyone under 21 from possessing cannabis (not that that’s been a great success so far). It would earmark marijuana taxes for research and public education designed to discourage juvenile use.
. . .
Legalization would likely produce a surge of dope smoking among teenagers who now avoid it simply because it is stigmatized as illegal.
Kids notice what adults consider acceptable, and not all of them are hell-bent on rebellion. Federal data suggest that most adolescents either avoid alcohol and drugs, or only experiment with them. Of those who’ve gotten in deep, roughly twice as many drink as smoke marijuana (or drink and smoke marijuana). Marijuana is easier to conceal, easier on the body and probably as easy to come by.
. . .
Legality will inevitably make marijuana more attractive to youth. Mere advertising campaigns aren’t likely to counteract that effect – especially since marijuana marketers will be doing their own advertising under I-502. The initiative also wouldn’t shut down the black market or the drug cartels, as its supporters hope. For example, sales would still be forbidden to those under 21 – but does anyone believe that dealers will stop selling to them?
There may be ways to legalize or decriminalize marijuana for adults without creating a wider snare for juveniles. It would be nice if I-502 could do that. It’s likely to have just the opposite effect.”
* * * *
Well, there you are. Probably not a friend. But lets respond to a few specifics. Young people using substances: Here is something we need to understand better than we do now. The people I know / knew, who either burned out early or never caught traction in their own life, were doing substances, usually alcohol, at a very early age. Couple that fact to new research on brain development and brain chemistry and you get a lot of important questions that need answers. So, maybe it won’t hurt kids to wait a little while to their first spark up? What age would you say? How do you feel about whatever age you first indulged?
Legalization producing a surge in teenage pot smoking: Someone is not paying attention. After legalization, where are the teenagers going to get their pot? Ever see a kid try and buy cigarettes at a convenience store? Paranoid store clerks know this is how the cigarette tax police catch — and fine — store clerks. Will there be a big surge in smoking by people who, for the first time, WILL / MAY have a challenge finding cannabis? At the same time these same frustrated buyers know that in a few days / weeks / months they can / will be able to purchase legally. As to cartels still selling to kids, why do all that extra work? Cartels can grow and sell to a processor / manufacturer after legalization. All with no danger from the law. Wonder if they will?
Legality will make marijuana more attractive Well, maybe, in that it may / will be an advertised commodity. See lots of cigarette ads, do you? Everyone knows how attractive the idea of boner pills is thanks to advertising. I think some people find the cannabis plant beautiful without advertising and some people will not find it beautiful even with advertising. Eye of the beholder thing and all. I define beauty differently than my parents did.
Let’s decriminalize for adults without making a wider snare for adolescents I think the “snare” (along with much of your pitch) is old reefer madness, but so what? I agree. Let’s decriminalize, no — re-legalize.
Find the original story HERE.
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