Update: In December 2017 the Washington Post published an article on adolescent use reporting that: “Following legalization, the rate of adolescent marijuana use in Colorado has fallen to its lowest level in nearly a decade, according to new federal survey data.” Additionally, use of other drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, and heroin use are down sharply in the state, as well.
The full story can be accessed at the following link. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/11/following-marijuana-legalization-teen-drug-use-is-down-in-colorado/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.5794fddce546
It seems that a key argument against the legalization of “Marijuana” centers on the increased use among teens and possible harm to the youth of our society. Opponents of “Marijuana”
most often refer to two main points when arguing against “Marijuana” legalization efforts. The increase in teen use and the impact from the Harm associated with “Marijuana” on the youth of our society.
The logic being that legalization of any sort will make Marijuana more readily available, and use among teens may rise. Opponents fears of legalization mostly likely stem from the fact that Marijuana is currently the most widely used illicit drug overall. Drug Use Charts
According to Seth D. Ammerman of the MD FAAP and the AAP committee on substance abuse, “Making it more available to adults – even if restrictions are in place – will increase the access for teens. Just the campaigns to legalize marijuana can have the effect of persuading adolescents that marijuana is not dangerous, which can have a devastating impact on their lifelong health and development.”
However, when you research teen use in states that have recreationally legalized cannabis, the statistics say the opposite. The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, in 2011 22 percent of high school students reported using cannabis and 39 percent had at least sampled it. When the survey repeated in 2013, those numbers were down to 20 percent and 37 percent respectively. US News Report
This may be due in part at least to the monies generated from Colorado’s MJ market that is dedicated to education and could be that the novelty of legalized Marijuana is just wearing off.
Children may also assume that if they were lied to about cannabis, they may have been lied to about other illicit substances as well. Without a proper working knowledge of Addiction and it’s dangers our youth will be more likely to experiment with other natural substances and possibly move into even “harder” substances that are more harmful, like Pharmaceutical/Synthetic drugs where their harms are so famously stated at the end of every commercial. It is only through this distorted picture of “Marijuana” that Cannabis becomes the “gateway drug” we have always been told to fear.
It is this author’s opinion that Cannabis only “appears” to be a gateway drug to “harder” drugs and by no fault of its own. Most likely due to the gross inaccuracies used to describe the possible harms of “Marijuana” and not enough education focused on the real harm, Addiction, and to any and everything. ”The Real Gateway Drug” would be the first addictive substance a baby is introduced, and it comes from their mother’s milk. In 2008 a study reveals in its conclusion of the rat study model that “In the aggregate, this is evidence that sugar can be addictive.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/
We are pleasure-seeking creatures, this is engrained in our DNA. It is a cruel and unusual punishment to criminally penalize or incarcerate anyone struggling with this illness due to our failure as parents and as a society to properly educate our children about Addiction in order to minimize the societal impacts and the obvious harm to the substance abuser. Opponents of “Marijuana” advocate for prevention through Education, then let it be a proper education, as the best preventative medicine to remedy this illness, or at the very least reduce the real harms of misinforming our children by demonizing “Marijuana”, the “least harmful substance known to man” is demonized through well funded commercial marketing campaigns promoting “Marijuana” as a harmful and addictive substance causes more harm to our children’s trust in our guidance when they discover the disproportionately inaccurate picture painted for them of what Marijuana is, what it can do, how it might feel and most importantly by accurately educating them on what it WILL not do.
The fact it is the least harmful substance known to man and its current status as the most widely used illicit drug are not mutually exclusive. It would seem that imprisoning citizens is not working and the show of public support for “Marijuana” legalization is nearing critical mass.
DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young said, “ Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”
In addition, a group of doctors recently stepped forward and lobbied the federal government for access to medical marijuana for pediatric patients. The American Academy of Pediatrics called on the DEA to reclassify cannabis to a less harmful substance on the classification schedule. A lower schedule for cannabis would ease restrictions on research, of which the AAP is in full support. These doctors specifically study to help children; it would go against their very being to give a harmful substance to a child.
We are responsible for our own education and the education of our children. Make the choice to check the facts, read past the headline grabber. Bring the truth into your home through research, reading, and discussions. If we educate our youth, through the truth about ALL substance and the real harms of Addiction, they will be LESS likely to experiment. Being open with the younger generation about the advantages as well as the dangers will help them to make intelligent, informed decisions about any other substances they may encounter.