How to talk with teens about marijuana: West Seattle High School hosting community event

May 6, 2014 at 11:54 am | In Health, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 40 Comments

Just out of the WSB inbox:

Please join us on Tuesday, May 13th, from 7:00-8:30 in the West Seattle High School Library to learn about how the legalization of marijuana and increased availability of marijuana products are affecting our students and our community. The West Seattle counseling staff is pleased to host this informative evening providing the latest research and data on marijuana legalization issues, use among teens and how to talk with our kids about all of it. Presenters will include Lisa Sharp and Stephen Bogan. Lisa is SPS Manager of Prevention and Intervention Education and has been working with adolescents for 15 years as a case manager, intervention specialist and health educator. Stephen Bogan is a private clinician with over 35 years of experience working in the field of chemical dependency, mental health and adolescent development.

If you have any questions, please contact Tara Vanselow at thvanselow@seattleschools.org

Anyone in the community who’s interested is invited – not just WSHS families. The school is at 3000 California SW.

40 Comments

  1. This is almost hilarious. The voters decide to legalize (and make much more available) a drug that causes permanent harm to young, developing minds and now we’re trying to find ways to keep kids from using it? We let the cat far out of the bag on this one. This meeting is well-intended but FAR too little, too late. We’re just going to have to accept that we will have more teens in rehab for marijuana, more kids killed in driving-while-high car accidents, and more kids with permanent learning difficulties due to our cavalier collective attitude towards this dangerous drug.

    Comment by Bradley — 12:27 pm May 6, 2014 #

  2. Stupid question, but aside from any talk about the mechanical specifics as they differ from alcohol (duration, effects of intoxication, effects on the liver versus the lungs, etc) shouldn’t the “Talks” be essentially the same thing now between alcohol and marijuana?

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 12:29 pm May 6, 2014 #

  3. If we’re going to have the discussion again, I would kindly request that people bring credible links to support whatever point they want to argue. I’ve tried looking some up and am now out of time, have to get back to another story. Teenagers use marijuana and alcohol *now* and helping parents discuss any and all intoxicant use with kids is actually rather counter to a “cavalier attitude.”

    Comment by WSB — 1:06 pm May 6, 2014 #

  4. Bradley, do you support going back to alcohol prohibition again?

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 1:30 pm May 6, 2014 #

  5. Just some personal insight into the “increased availability” concept. When I was in junior/senior high school in the 90s, it was much, much easier for me to obtain marijuana than it was to get alcohol. In order to get alcohol, I had to find somebody 21+ to buy it on my behalf which wasn’t always so easy to do, but to get marijuana I just had to ask around the hallway at school. I think legalization and regulation of marijuana will make it more difficult for youth to get their hands on it, assuming that they can make a big dent in the black market.

    Comment by Greg — 1:42 pm May 6, 2014 #

  6. Bradley, why in the world would you criticize a group that is trying to help youth? NOT everyone voted to legalize recreational marijuana; I’ve been clean/sober a long, long time, but started drinking as a teen, in So Cal, where access to alcohol was on every corner, at every store, in every home; and easy access to drugs from 18 on; I voted against this MJ law and the privatization of liquor, primarily out of concern that both would significantly increase youth access; we now have many local stores reporting kids stealing alcohol, not at all surprising; I never liked pot myself, and have witnessed many friends become addicted; a greater concern, the pot of today is much much much stronger; kids are having enough challenges staying in high school, preparing for college, etc; and these stores are selling what seems like an infinite variety of infused products, many easy to hide from parents, teachers; it’s not like the old days of just smoking a joint
    ~
    I applaud these folks for reaching out to parents to educate them on how to talk to their kids; NewDay dedicated their entire hour this morning to this topic, with many experts (pediatrician, lawyer, KC Sheriff, researcher); talking to kids at 11 or 12 is none too soon; kids brains are not fully developed until well past high school; if you have questions about what is the difference of impacts between alcohol and marijuana, might be a really good idea to attend this event; there are many similarities, and many differences; I’m an expert on early childhood development, but I’m not an expert on this topic; sounds like attending this event could be very beneficial for many in our community

    Comment by Diane — 1:46 pm May 6, 2014 #

  7. Speaking as someone who has significant mental illness on both sides of our family, I am most concerned that we talk about marijuana and alcohol being the *same* when they really aren’t in terms of mental health risks to the developing brain. There is much documentation that marijuana is a risk factor to developing schizophrenia. Because this and other mental health issues run in my family, we will sure as heck be having some very serious conversations with our daughter about how casual use of marijuana will be potentially MORE dangerous for her that others and is definitely not the same as drinking a few beers now and again. I am growing so tired of this analogy since legalization and I think it is bunk propagated by the medical marijuana “industry”.

    http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Hearts_and_Minds/Smoking_Cessation/Marijuana_and_Mental_Illness.htm

    Comment by kgdlg — 1:46 pm May 6, 2014 #

  8. I experimented with both marijuana and alcohol while in high school 15 years ago. Back then it was always easier to get our hands on pot. Long term this law shouldn’t change much in regards to use and tax revenue from sales will fund drug education. I’m so tired of this “reefer madness” mentality, join the 21st century people. Why this country is ok with alcohol, but thinks pot is the devil still boggles my mind.

    Comment by unknown — 2:08 pm May 6, 2014 #

  9. My experience was in line with Greg’s. All you had to do was go to the school’s back parking lot during lunch break and ask around. I didn’t even smoke it and I knew where to get it. It just wasn’t that difficult to find out.
    .
    Drug education initiatives in schools aren’t exactly new. They had those when I was in high school, too.

    Comment by datamuse — 2:26 pm May 6, 2014 #

  10. This was the topic of “New Day Northwest” this morning and it was a great great educational show! Everyone should watch it, also use the links provided on line for additional information.
    Please remember it is still illegal to use under the age of 21, you can not smoke it in public, and the law enforcment officers are going to be arresting all those abusing these laws.

    Comment by Silly Goose — 2:27 pm May 6, 2014 #

  11. Since my initial post drew so much scorn, I’ll expand here a bit. Number 1: alcohol and marijuana are two COMPLETELY different drugs. Alcohol is manufactured under far more scrutiny than marijuana and the effects on the brain are entirely different. Comparing pot to alcohol is like comparing apples and Cheez-Its. 2. The potency of marijuana is now such that a typical, weekend user CANNOT use even a small amount without becoming intoxicated. It is possible to have a small amount of alcohol without becoming intoxicated, even for a non-”drinker”. 3. It has been scientifically documented now that marijuana causes permanent learning disability in the minds of teens and young adults. 4. It has also been scientifically documented that marijuana causes mental health issues in young AND mature adults, even when there is no family/genetic history. We are currently dealing with a young family member who has mental health issues and is currently using marijuana, so don’t assume I “know nothing” about this dangerous drug. You have no idea what my family has been through with regards to the costs of marijuana use. 5. If alcohol were a new drug today, most Americans would be in favor of making it illegal. I have lost two grandparents to alcoholism and am currently watching my closest childhood friend die from alcohol addiction. 6. I am all for keeping kids off of all drugs and for educating them. But, it is also true that drug abuse INCREASES among student populations who have been exposed to the D.A.R.E. program, which can be an unintended consequence of drug education. 7. I am an educator at the college level and I have seen first-hand the effects on students who are even casual marijuana users. They struggle to keep up with class work volumes and they drop out at much higher rates than their non-pot-using peers. I have had more than one student tell me they stopped using marijuana simply so they can get through college on their now-second try. Good for them, but not every pot user can stop so easily as humans have varying levels of discipline. My original point is: we have to expect a higher level of teens to be using marijuana when we increase availability. Relying on education to keep kids off of drugs is utopian fantasy.

    Comment by Bradley — 3:34 pm May 6, 2014 #

  12. I wish we put this much energy into improving our schools.

    Comment by Reality Checking Your Face — 3:34 pm May 6, 2014 #

  13. This is called education folks, this is what we are *supposed* to be doing.
    .
    Bradley, mental health issues and marijuana are also two very different things and the rest of your points are very bizarre as well. Frankly I am concerned for your students.
    .
    How many of you anti-marijuana folks think guns should also be illegal?

    Comment by Jason — 4:18 pm May 6, 2014 #

  14. If we are going to talk to children about marijuana. It is highly important for them to be able to distinguish the good from bad and who has the best dope. There is nothing more horrendous than bad weed.

    Comment by Craig — 4:19 pm May 6, 2014 #

  15. ” My original point is: we have to expect a higher level of teens to be using marijuana when we increase availability. Relying on education to keep kids off of drugs is utopian fantasy.”

    I think the utopian fantasy is believing that teens do not already have access to this drug. As the comments above have proven, they do. They are using it right now, and the only thing that’s going to change when it’s more available potentially is the price; if we’re really lucky the quality and potency may stabilize.

    Somehow, most of the modern developed world has managed to solve both the drug and the alcohol problem, so what’s different? There’s freely available alcohol all over Europe for their teens, so besides education and culture what’s different?

    Comment by B — 4:20 pm May 6, 2014 #

  16. Bradley- If you are an college level educator I would have hoped you would have read the instructions WSB added. “If we’re going to have the discussion again, I would kindly request that people bring credible links to support whatever point they want to argue. “

    Comment by Krm66 — 4:32 pm May 6, 2014 #

  17. I’d much rather see something on the concerns for the heroin problem at our schools. I personally know three kids who attended WS High alone.One of which recently died from it and that shortly will as well.

    Comment by Alki resident — 5:16 pm May 6, 2014 #

  18. I wonder how many of you people who are pro-marijuana are parents, as I am, and how many of you have a teenager who is having problems with marijuana, as I do? @Krm66: “If we’re going to have the discussion again, I would kindly request that people bring credible links to support whatever point they want to argue.”
    Anyone who has read the recent major newspapers or watches the national nightly news will be aware of the recent studies that connect even casual, adult marijuana use with compromised brain function. The childhood development issues associated with teen marijuana use have been vastly published and reported for years as well. Perhaps you should do some research of your own? @B: if you’ve been to Europe recently you’ll plainly see that they have significant problems with alcoholism and, no, most of the world has not been able to contain their problems with drugs and alcohol. Looking the other way and treating drug addicts with de-facto hospice care in the manner of Portugal and the Netherlands would not be acceptable if it were your son or daughter. @Jason: mental health and marijuana use are, sadly, quite related and both can and do lead to the other. Ask any mental health or drug rehabilitation professional. Don’t take my word for it. And my students do quite well, thank you, but I appreciate your concern for their well-being.

    Comment by Bradley — 5:26 pm May 6, 2014 #

  19. Kids get way more alcohol these days because it’s more available due to it being sold at private retailers instead of state stores now. It was hard for shoplifting teens to steal it then and incredibly easy now since retailers neglect securing it. Why should it be such a stretch to assume that it’s not going to be easier for kids to get their hands on weed when it’s sold in stores now? Kids will also continue to buy it the way I and everyone else did before it was legalized. We got rid of the prohibition on alcohol and we tolerate the problems that alcohol creates (illness, deaths from DUI’s, spousal and child abuse, etc). I think all that Bradley is saying is that we will have to accept a certain amount of new addicts and increased teen use now that we have legalized it. I see more people using it now in public than I did a year or so ago.

    Comment by Joe — 5:44 pm May 6, 2014 #

  20. The refer madness surly is in full swing in the Emerald City.

    It’s not “Drugs and Alcohol” – it’s “Drugs and Drugs” – alcohol is a drug, period, full-stop, fact.
    Alcohol and pot are truly about the same thing – neither is good for you, both are bad for developing brains, we should regulate and control the access of both for the sake of young people.

    This one is really bugging me:
    “Alcohol is manufactured under far more scrutiny than marijuana”
    So false it’s *almost* funny – read the regs on being a distillery vs an I502 producer – the manufacture of pot for legal sale will be far more heavily regulated than alcohol – for one thing, every manufacturer and processor is under 24/7 uninterrupted video surveillance, the production is tracked from seed to sale, and every strain must be registered and tested by an independent lab. Alcohol production is barely regulated, you could literally throw an old shoe into your fermenting barrel and call it an additive (ok maybe not that) but seriously, it’s not very heavily regulated at all.

    Stop with the stuff about pot today being so strong we just can’t comprehend – it’s not, that’s a myth, it comes in lots of flavors, colors, and yes, strengths.
    Why does nobody care that IPAs today are SO MUCH STRONGER than IPAs from my youth? Curiously, it’s even the same increase in potency – 8% to 12% for both THC and alcohol in the triple IPAs (mmmm triple IPA soooooo good – but I digress)

    Alcohol Poisoning (overdose) claims about 400 lives a year.
    Marijuana overdose has claimed zero lives throughout the entirety of recorded history (and prior).
    Gun violence claimed the lives of 2,827 children and teens back in 2003 alone.
    http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
    http://blogs.kansascity.com/crime_scene/files/cdf_gun_report_2827_child_teen_deaths_by_firearms_in_one_year.pdf

    I’d vote with Jason and say guns are a slightly bigger problem here.

    Your plan to warn a teen with genetic disposition to mental illness off of marijuana is admirable and well placed, however, there is no causal link proven between Marijuana use and Psychosis at all, and the current research is heavily debated. The latest study by Parakh and Basu, 2013, the only one that has concluded a ‘component causal’ is being criticized for using dubious methodology; specifically:
    Electronic bibliographic databases like PubMed and Google Scholar were searched using the format ‘‘(psychosis or schizophrenia or synonyms) and (cannabis or synonyms)’’
    Where a “synonym” for “Cannabis” was “Drugs” – I think you can see how that may get them the results they wanted. Which still isn’t a causal link:

    RESULTS: Heavy cannabis use at a young age, in association with genetic liability to psychosis and exposure to environmental stressors like childhood trauma and urban upbringing increases the risk of psychotic outcome in later life.
    http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/documents/CAPNAH/files/Cannabis%20and%20psychosis_have%20we%20found%20the%20missing%20link_open.pdf

    Also, as others may have stated (I’m not sure) prohibition does NOTHING to limit the availability of the substance.
    http://www.hightimes.com/read/dea-pot-prohibition-has-done-nothing-limit-plant%E2%80%99s-availability
    Yes, I realize that’s from high Times, but read it – it’s basically direct quotes from the DEA saying prohibition doesn’t work, pot is MORE available now than ever before, and it’s increasing.

    Comment by zark — 5:58 pm May 6, 2014 #

  21. I support the heroin education idea as well. Please help these kids! They are using at frightening volumes. If I knew how to add a link I’d add a story that npr did recently. Heartbreaking.

    Comment by Founding Member — 6:11 pm May 6, 2014 #

  22. To add a link all you have to do is cut and paste the entire link, starting with http: etc. Links in comments are automatically activated without any coding necessary.

    Comment by WSB — 6:12 pm May 6, 2014 #

  23. I’ve always told my children and grand kids the truth. I know kids are going to party but I’d rather they use pot than alcohol. At least with pot I don’t have to worry about them doing too much and dying! I’ve seen too many kids dead from alcohol. When they are 16 or older if they want to do a little pot I say why not!

    Comment by Wise grandma — 6:13 pm May 6, 2014 #

  24. Reminder of the rules … though we don’t require real names or log-ins for comments, we do require that once you pick an ID for a particular thread, you post only as that ID. No sockpuppetry. Thanks!

    Comment by WSB — 6:53 pm May 6, 2014 #

  25. Bradley, I am a parent of 3 kids and I happen to know quite a bit about addiction as well actually. And while I would of course agree that marijuana is probably not good for a developing brain, “anyone who reads major newspapers or watches the nightly news” is pretty weak, I hope you’re not a science teacher.
    .
    But let’s face it, plenty of what’s being said here is just based on total lack of any knowledge or facts. There are a ton of contradictory studies on marijuana, and there are also plenty of lobbyists http://www.republicreport.org/2012/marijuana-lobby-illegal/ (alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceutical and my favorite – the private prison corporations) fighting to make sure people keep spreading this kind of information with nothing behind it. There is a lot we still don’t know about it, but what we do know is that nobody’s flat out died from overdosing on it ever in history.
    .
    So yeah, teens shouldn’t probably use marijuana or other drugs but guess what? They already do, and hey look here’s a study: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423102754.htm
    .
    This is why we need education on the topic.
    .
    And zark, really great points – I would for agree for the most part but alcohols is clearly more dangerous as you spelled out and ruins way more lives. Not that it should be illegal, because adults should be able to make their own decisions.

    Comment by Jason — 8:15 pm May 6, 2014 #

  26. Ummm, people – right or wrong/good or bad/agree or disagree…I think we’re losing the point of this post entirely. I for one appreciate this group willing to talk with parents about issues we may be facing, or may face at some point in the near future. Education and information is power, and concerned parents should take advantage of this opportunity.

    Comment by kas — 8:40 pm May 6, 2014 #

  27. perhaps no one has died directly from overdosing on pot so far, but with edibles infused with high doses, there have been deaths related to overdose
    ~
    more concerning with all the new infused products; it’s especially dangerous to have these enticing infused goodies in the home where a child could mistake them for regular candy, cookies
    ~
    “This candy bar in its entirety the candy bar is as strong at 30 marijuana joints”
    ~
    http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/colorado-eyes-rules-marijuana-edibles-article-1.1774596

    Comment by Diane — 10:05 pm May 6, 2014 #

  28. I agree kas, educating parents and their kids on these kinds of issues is very important. Although I am a big proponent of adults making their own decisions when it comes to what they consume that really is besides the point.. I got a little side-tracked by the ‘education is a Utopian fantasy’ bit.
    .
    The fact is, there is a potential for abuse with anything, especially with young people and they should certainly be equipped to make good decisions when it comes to consuming drugs and alcohol.

    Comment by Jason — 10:08 pm May 6, 2014 #

  29. It’s never a bad thing to have an open discussion about drugs and alcohol. Anyone who was a kid in the 80s remembers this http://www.dare.org/
    .
    Thinking drugs and alcohol are any more accessible now than before is a joke. I remember kids from elementary school (from well to do families in the eastside) were smoking marijuana in the 80s. By the time I got to high school, I watched a kid snort cocaine in my English class, right off his desk. It’s not any easier to get now than before. I’m glad they’re having an open discussion about it and getting people to talk about it. The parents that ignore it are typically the ones that end up with kids that are using, that or the parents are also using and the kids get it from the parents.

    Comment by Mike — 10:18 pm May 6, 2014 #

  30. Yes, Diane the edibles seem like they can be dangerous – just like with any industry there’s going to unfortunately be people pushing the limits when it comes to manufacturing and distributing a product and I have a feeling there will be some kind of regulation on how much THC can be in these things, proper warning labels, etc. But again, we’re talking about a very tiny amount of incidents and most importantly do we really need to rely on the government to tell us and our kids what we can and can’t do? I Wouldn’t it be nice to see us all become accountable for our behavior and the educating of our children all by ourselves?
    .
    Overall I agree though that infusing candy and cookies with marijuana is relatively dangerous and highly irresponsible in a home with children present.

    Comment by Jason — 7:50 am May 7, 2014 #

  31. How about we trust parents to keep dangerous substances away from kids, Diane?

    Keep the booze in a locked cabinet, keep the guns in a safe, keep the chemicals locked in the garage, keep the pot cookies with the booze.

    Comment by Mack — 8:43 am May 7, 2014 #

  32. Thank you WSHS for hosting. We have already had the sex talk with our 11 year old but not the drug/alcohol talk. Thank you for the reminder and we look forward to the event!

    Comment by NorDel — 9:12 am May 7, 2014 #

  33. @Jason: if you must know, I’m a college health instructor and a certified personal trainer in my spare time. It is, literally, my job to promote health and wellness and to give information to people (young and old) that will hopefully keep their bodies and minds from deteriorating before their time. @Mike: in Washington State here, alcohol is definitely more accessible to minors now than it was before privatization. Ask any grocery or drug store manager about how much shoplifting of booze they deal with these days. It is far easier for a kid to walk into Safeway these days and walk out with a bottle of Bacardi 151 (no one is going to “tackle” him at the door, either) than it is to acquire a fake ID or beg someone over 21 to buy it for them. Pot will be more accessible to everyone when private, legal sales begin soon, even though kids will still get it the way they always have: from illegal dealers. My main concern here is long-term. Marijuana is dangerous not because it causes such a rapid, extreme physiological change in users, but because it’s so benign. You won’t lose your house, your teeth, stay awake for 5 days and think zombies are chasing you, etc. It’s actually much more damaging because it works against the user without seeming to have any ill effects over such a long period of time. A 21 year-old, new pot smoker can have a lifetime of ambitions and dreams ahead of him/her. If they start using with increasing frequency, they can start to struggle with college and decide to change their major to Sociology instead of Engineering. A few more years of even more marijuana usage, they barely graduate with their Sociology degree. They work part-time at Taco Time after graduation and still smoke regularly. Then he/she gets a better job at the airport and still smokes regularly, is comfortable with their life, and doesn’t seem to have any ambitions other than handling luggage for $23 dollars an hour. Suddenly, it’s 10 years later, he/she gets laid-off by the airline, is still using pot (now daily), moves into their parent’s basement, and is going on 40. Their teeth didn’t fall out. They didn’t die from an overdose. He/she didn’t end up in a mental hospital. None of the ‘Refer Madness’ nonsense happened. But their potential has never been realized, their future is far less encouraging, they now have a nagging (yet still fairly benign and functional) addiction, and his/her ambition and zest for life is low. This is the real danger of marijuana use: becoming a permanent member of the growing “struggle-class” instead of prospering, achieving one’s full potential, and ending up becoming another statistic in our widening gap between haves and have-nots. More states are going to legalize marijuana in the coming years and our shrinking middle-class and poor will be the populations who will be the most negatively affected.

    Comment by Bradley — 4:46 pm May 7, 2014 #

  34. Wow, what a picture you just painted. I guess that could happen. You could also get hit by a car or eat too many milky way bars and get diabetes or get a degree in business finance and still work at taco bell with $120k in student loans. You could burn your finger there then get prescribed drugs by a doctor that make your ‘zest for life low’ or get someone pregnant when you’re too young or get mercury poisoning from too much tuna fish or buy a pair of shoes that cause people to judge you and not invite you to good outings or get a haircut that causes someone to mistaken you for a person that they don’t like or put on too much cologne and then the people on the bus don’t want to sit next to you, giving you low self esteem and then making you depressed and more tired, which means you miss an episode of Game of Thrones and then when all your co-workers at taco bell discuss it without saying ‘spoiler alert’ you find out what happened and spiral further into a depressive state causing you to eat more of the tacobell meat(ish) product, causing IBS-like symptoms.

    Comment by Jason — 6:15 pm May 7, 2014 #

  35. Wow, Jason. Best. Comment. Ever. That was some hilariously deft imploding of some of the most blatant and ridiculous employ of logical fallacy I’ve seen displayed here in many a year. Well done, sir.

    Comment by Laconique — 10:09 pm May 7, 2014 #

  36. “It is far easier for a kid to walk into Safeway these days and walk out with a bottle of Bacardi 151″
    .
    Have you even been to any grocery store lately? You need a key to access it, it’s harder to swipe from Safeway than the old state run liqueur stores. Try again. Magically it’s never been an issue for teens or preteens to get their hands on alcohol or drugs. It’s not a new phenomenon and we have less of a teen drinking issue now than in the 80s.
    .
    “A few more years of even more marijuana usage, they barely graduate with their Sociology degree” Or they can graduate from UW as a DDS/PhD like somebody I actually knew growing up that not only smoked a lot of marijuana, they did cocaine and drank a lot of hard alcohol. But hey, obviously you know…you are a personal trainer, or phys ed teacher…or something.

    Comment by Mike — 10:10 pm May 7, 2014 #

  37. @Jason and Mike: You can believe what you like. It’s a free country. So can I. I just happen to deal with the 18-25 age demographic on a daily basis and watch them struggling to make something of themselves. I also watch those who partake in “harmless” marijuana smoking drop out. I get sad when I see them months later stocking shelves at Target. I want to see young people prosper and have an opportuninty to achieve some of the same success that I have been blessed with and not be hobbled by addiction and the negative effects of a “harmless” substance. I have raised two children to become successful, educated, and productive adults. I also am currently responsible for the physical and financial care of a 21 year-old niece with a marijuana addiction which flourished under her pot-smoking father’s attitude toward the drug, which is similar to yours. You can go ahead and mock my desire for young people to be healthy and drug-free all you want. My hope is that someday you don’t have to deal with a drug-addicted adult child. Good luck to you.

    Comment by Bradley — 2:38 pm May 8, 2014 #

  38. I appreciate your compassion, Bradley. Addiction is a terrible thing and I empathize with your situation. I don’t know that I called marijuana harmless, but to that point of course there are varying degrees of harm. For example McDonald’s is not harmless, nor is diet coke, bank of america, etc. But as adults we can all make decisions how much of these things we want to engage in and educate our children (the way you have) about these things. Why do we need the government to tell us how to live our lives?
    .
    Also, there is a whole cause and effect conversation about people who abuse marijuana, alcohol, etc. I won’t judge/insult the many good folks stocking shelves at Target, working at fast food restaurants or handling baggage at the airport as you have (in fact, I feel sad for you how much of your identity/ego and value you attribute to others is wrapped up in what you/they do for work) but people in poverty often use substances as a way to cope with their situations. Essentially in some cases they aren’t poor because they do drugs but they do drugs because they are poor. It’s a sad cycle.
    .
    But, just like some people can have a drink of beer and go on with their lives, many (maybe most?) folks can do the same with marijuana. At the end of the day educating people is cheaper, more effective and far more compassionate than locking them up. Let people have access real information, not garbage research funded by special interest groups, and then let them make their own decisions. That’s progress and freedom.

    Comment by Jason — 5:57 pm May 8, 2014 #

  39. @Jason: It’s not judging or insulting to feel bad that people are working at Target and fast food restaurants when these establishments fail to provide their workers with a living wage. It IS very much sad when middle-age workers have no choice but to be employed in low-end retail and fast food because of addictions and/or bad life choices that took away from their potential (not every middle-age worker in these situations fall into that category at all, however). Airport jobs tend to be living-wage level with decent benefits. Workers there generally aren’t being exploited due to the life circumstances the way non-management workers at the discount retailers are. We college professors are used to being accused of having an “ivory tower” outlook on those outside of our profession, but I was a low-wage, blue-collar worker for many years. I know how difficult it is to be out in the working world without an education. My goal is to reduce the number of people who have to go through that and limit the amount of time for those who do. And you are very much correct: poverty leads to drug use and addiction just as much as drug addiction leads to poverty. The only reliable way out of poverty for most people is through a marketable education.

    Comment by Bradley — 7:30 pm May 8, 2014 #

  40. I like how it’s implied that anyone that earns a college degree in Sociology has hit rock bottom and they’ll never be able to meet their potential. If they could only follow their dreams of Engineering they would. I wonder how many folks in the Sociology category are aware that they are only slightly above pond scum. I think that may reflect a predisposed hierarchy among majors/subjects in the mind of college professors. By the way, Jason’s post was AWESOME!

    Comment by 2 Much Whine — 10:34 am May 13, 2014 #

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