Marijuana — Responses to Teens

Kids say: (Click each topic or scroll down for our responses)
It’s safer than alcohol or tobacco.
It’s not addictive.
It’s a natural substance.
Didn’t you use it when you were younger?
Don’t you think it should be legal?
Prohibition doesn’t work.
I just want to try it, I’m not going to become a pot head.

Kids say:
It’s safer than alcohol or tobacco.

We say:
That’s a pretty low bar for an argument.  That some dangerous things are legal doesn’t mean that we should make other dangerous things legal.

We know too much for me to think that safer than alcohol is safe.  We know that marijuana impacts developing brain in undesirable ways.  We know that those impacts are more than “feeling high.”  We know that those impacts can be permanent.

Kids say:
It’s not addictive.

We say:
There is, in fact, a great deal of debate within the medical and scientific community about that.  For every article you can find saying it isn’t, there is also research saying that it is.  What IS true is that some people who use marijuana can and do become dependent and can’t feel normal without using.  I don’t want that to happen to you.

Kids say:
It’s a natural substance.

We say:
So are uranium and hemlock, arsenic and the coca plants producing cocaine.

Today’s weed has been progressively genetically engineered so that it doesn’t look like the marijuana of the 70’s, 80’s or even the 90’s.  It is no longer a “natural substance”  Even THC levels in marijuana that is sold legally are not standing up to testing. (Denver Post this week 3/9/14)

Kids say:
Didn’t you use it when you were younger?

We say:
You know what, when you know better you do better.  Back when we were kids no one had any idea about how much brain development goes on in a teenager. We had no idea how much introducing substances could impact that developing brain.  We just thought you had to add more experiences to get a more mature brain.    We know better now.

Kids say:
Don’t you think it should be legal?

We say:
That’s a complicated question with more than a yes or no answer.  I have a variety thoughts on whether or not people who use marijuana should be in jail, but that doesn’t mean I want it more accessible to teenagers, and that’s one risk associated with legalization.

Kids say:
Prohibition doesn’t work.

We say:
Prohibition didn’t work after alcohol had already been legal.  There’s no comparison.  In every state that has medical marijuana available we see increases in underage use.

Both alcohol and tobacco are becoming increasingly restricted by law.  We can no longer smoke in our offices (or our schools).  We cannot drink over the legal limit (which continues to decrease) and drive.  By prohibiting or limiting use with both of these substances we’ve seen appreciable reductions in use in the general population.

Look at alcohol, it currently continues to be the drug of choice among teenagers.  It is available legally.  How is that not going to change if we legalize marijuana?

Kids say:
I just want to try it, I’m not going to become a pot head.

We say:
It’s hard to imagine that anyone who is a pot head started out planning to become one.  There is no predictor of who is going to become dependent on marijuana.  We know what it looks like once they get there.  They generally are willing to sacrifice the things they previously cared about and focus most of their energy on getting high.

They sacrifice

  • excellence in academics,
  • excellence in sports,
  • their non-using friendships,
  • relationships with their families

Are there successful students who get high?  Absolutely.  Are they likely to do better if they DON’T get high — of course.  Can we be confident that you are going to be one of students who doesn’t become dependent?  Absolutely not.

That’s why I don’t want you to use marijuana.
Now let’s talk about what the consequences might be if you do.

“If you’re tempted to (drink alcohol or) smoke pot, please let’s talk about it.  I want you to hold off while your beautiful brain is still developing.”

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