Sorry AP, Telling Kids the Truth About Marijuana is Not Complicated

[In response to the AP article “Easing of State Marijuana Laws Poses Challenge for Parents”]

No one can deny that the number one goal of a parent is for his or her children to grow up healthy, and be able to make responsible decisions about everything from their friendships and lifestyle, to their safety.  Parents do this by sitting down and having open honest conversations about issues that will inevitably affect them in the future.

Education gives children the tools and understanding to help them cope with the challenges they have already experienced, and will continue to face further down the road.  Creating a government regulated system for marijuana legalization, which will include everything from age limits to promotional and advertising restrictions (and obviously impaired driving regulations), will actually help parents address this issue with their kids.  Several studies have already shown that states with regulated marijuana programs have not seen an increase in teen use.  Some have even seen a decrease in pot use among their youth population.

The prohibition of marijuana sends the message “marijuana is morally wrong” and implies that there is no such thing as a responsible marijuana consumer.  This ignorant policy improperly allows the government to interfere in the parent’s job of teaching their kids about moderation and responsibility.  Scare tactics and rhetoric are disingenuous and do not help children understand the realities of the world we live in.

It is socially acceptable for parents, alcohol distributors, and even the government to teach children about safe drinking practices (with a full understanding that alcohol is directly responsible for thousands of deaths every year), and the state regulation of marijuana will allow parents and educators do the same for the plant (whose non-lethal and relatively harmless side effects inevitably make the latter substance the safer choice).

We did not have to outlaw cigarettes to reduce the use among minors. A policy of education and regulation (not prohibition) has created an environment in which cigarette usage has fallen to an all time low.  The same goes for alcohol.  A sustained and concerted effort on responsible drinking practices by the government, alcohol companies and educational institutions have driven teen alcohol use down to a record low as well, according to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey.  Age restrictions, government regulation and education have proven to be one of the most effective elements in reducing youth access to adult-only recreational substances.  None of these controls apply to marijuana.

As it currently stands, marijuana is illegal and sold on the black market to anyone willing to pay for it.  Drug dealers don’t ID.  Today, young people report that they have easier access to illicit marijuana than to legal beer or cigarettes.  This is because the latter is legally limited to adults only.

Children need accurate information to make informed decisions. They need to be educated on how consuming marijuana can effect their body’s development specifically, and how to reduce any harms associated with its use – as well as how to distinguish between use and abuse.  Just as it is socially acceptable for parents to speak with their children openly about their use of alcohol, with an emphasis on that fact that it is only appropriate for adults in moderation, the legalization of marijuana will allow parents to openly discuss their (possible) past or current use and be able to objectively and rationally speak to their children about pot.  The controlled regulation of marijuana will send a message of moderation and responsible use.  It will also undercut the black market, which in turn will reduce teen access.  It’s as simple as that, and it’s a win-win for everybody.

 

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20 thoughts

  1. I figured this shit out when i was like 10. Its called common sense.But unfortunately the world is full of sheep nestled under their momma governments teet just sucking eyes half shut and dozing off.

  2. I love this. Thank you for all your work NORML; you’re pushing America in the right direction. I only hope these rational words can reach the sometimes distant ears of corporate-appealing politicians. I am behind you all completely 🙂 Keep up the great work!!

  3. I read this article in my local paper today and thought to myself,”What’s so difficult? You talk to your kids about alcohol,(or at least you should) why not pot?” Maybe the difference is that MJ has been illegal and demonized for the last 70+ years and alcohol has been socially “acceptable” for anyone born after prohibition was repealed. Education is the key. Hats off to you guys at NORML for your efforts. Keep up the good work! I promise I’ll do my part.

  4. yeah, all these news stories today were making me sick….so, let me get this straight, rather than talking to your kids rationally and truthfully about marijuana, you would rather subject them to the criminal justice system, give them criminal records that WILL stop them from being employed anywhere and ruin their lives before they even get a chance to start them? not to mention if they get put in jail for any length of time, where they will be for sure preyed upon by the Real criminals in jail. will most likely be sodomized, perhaps even on a daily basis, all because you didn’t have the balls to talk to your kids about it? the mentality of some of these stories is so draconian, im flabbergasted

  5. Excellent article Sabrina!

    I wish this could get placed in all of the major newspapers in this country. So many parents seem to have a real problem being truthful with their kids…

  6. What do parents tell their 8 year old daughter when, after the boner pill commercial, asks, “Daddy, what’s an erection lasting more than four hours?”

  7. It is so important as a parent to talk to your child about marijuana. Because if you don’t have “the talk” with your child, someone else will. That’s just a fact. And that person might be someone who doesn’t have your child’s best interests at heart – like a politician or a D.A.R.E. officer. Is that something you want – your child to get his first “lesson” about marijuana from a D.A.R.E officer? There’s no question that the conversation can be a difficult one for some parents. Kids have a way of getting to the heart of a matter, and they can ask some really tricky questions like: “daddy, why are the bad men hurting people just for growing a plant?” No parent wants to look into their child’s sweet, innocent little face and have to explain things like ignorance, fear, hatred, racism, corporatism, and greed. It’s natural to want to protect your child from those things. But the reality is you can’t. Those kinds of evil are out there, and your child is going to have face them some day. It’s your job to make sure they’re ready when that day comes. Some parents find it easiest to give their child a book to read and then ask their child to come to them with any questions. I think that’s fine. There are certainly a number of great titles out there. For example, my nephews seemed to really enjoy “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” by Jack Herer. But don’t think that simply handing your kid a book is the end of your responsibility. And make sure you have an answer to what could prove to be the most difficult question: “daddy, what are you doing to stop this?”

  8. Parents need to understand this:
    There are only benefits from smoking marijuana.

    My father is a nurse, he has never talked to me about drugs, he has even caught me with my bong, but he didn’t do anything.
    I don’t know if he is stupid or knows the positive effects of marijuana, and does’t care if I smoke it as long as my life is on track.

    Parents need to talk to their children about serious issues such as drugs or the government will educate them with wrong information. Prohibition has done this easily and it needs to stop.

    Here are two initiatives on the Oregon 2012 Ballot! Praying they will pass.

    Marijuana Legalization Amendment
    – Allows adult marijuana use, possession, production, exceptions for public safety.

    Cannabis Tax Act Initiative
    – Would create a cannabis commission to regulate the cultivation and sale of cannabis.

  9. I love the statement about cannabis prohibition sends the message that there is no responsible cannabis use. It’s false to say that cannabis can’t be used responsibly. I like the word “regulate”. We should all use that instead of “legalize”.

  10. I guess things have changed, when I was younger, alcohol was the easiest drug to purchase, I was buying alcohol in liquor stores @ 16 years old and cigarettes, everybody smoked. The two true gateway drugs. Marijuana was hard to find. It makes me wonder what my 80’s generation were ingesting into our lungs? Regulation of cannabis is awesome, no molds, mites and god knows what else. Prohibition, Dare all that nonsense is utterly a joke, lies upon lies. Spread the truth, educate our youth and rethink the leaf.

  11. The Republican residential Challenger Mitt Romney is accusing the President of making a politically motivated policy decision in allow illegal immigrants to remain in the United States under certain conditions? This is just another example of how broken our politicians are in reference to there poor under standing of the issues we the American public cares about. Or their continued interest in deflecting the real
    Challenges behind our problems and using negative tactics is simple an attempt to make themselves look better then whom ever they happen to be running against and we the people get another poor person in a position of trust.

    The challenge we need addressed is for someone to honestly address our problems with alternative solutions, good or bad. What good can possible come from fighting about who has the best idea. Just put your idea on the table and let us the people decide. But no it is much easier for Mitt and Obama to simply criticized and be judgmental. But you know what, I can find any 8th Grader who can do this. Of course the news services are all to happy play along, as this critical controversy sells air time and we all know the networks are struggling to keep the air waves full of stuff, no matter how relevant or not, the material is!

    The maybe the real goal, is just that to keep us conflicted. By causing as much dissention as possible and keep the people from working out the real problem with Government our elected, just seem to get more and more power over how we live. Sounds scary to me.

    If for example Mitt Romney or Obama were really serious about trying to be instrumental in bring, us the people of this country together they would both get behind legalization legislation of Marijuana. It just does not make sense not too. There are by some accounts over 50% of the people using this product. And many more people who condone Marijuana’s being made legal. The prohibition of Marijuana has split this country for way to many years and we need to let it go and allow it to take its course as a legal means of letting off steam in the same way as alcohol. The world will not end and we the people will learn to make it work. So if you were running for government why wouldn’t you want at least 50% of the people behind you? The only reason I can think of is because is might not be in the best interest of big Money. Make no mistake about it, money and those who control it along with those people who feel we the people should not be able to make decisions for fear that we might make a morally bad choice and smoke a little herb are a big pat of these questions.

    The person or persons who first take up this mantle are going to be heroes. When we can get the people elected to office who stop treating people like sheep and who they continue to believe must be herded around, then by god, we will really be capable of great things. Yes, the government will have to let some of us smoke Marijuana, and let some gays Married. Who cares, let us decide for ourselves and stay our of our way.

    Yes, this does mean our elected officials will have to make hard choices and yes some of those decisions will not be the most popular – but grow up that is the job, to protect us the people from the government, Not the other way around.

  12. Great rebuttal. Video footage of the critics embedded in a larger pro-legalization made for tv special that has more pro beats than con beats. Otherwise, the rebuttal remains a blog. Cannabis Culture is reporting about the study that indicates MMJ does not have to mean an increase in teen/high school students use. The advertising of it as recreational can restricted as tobacco and alcohol advertising is, however with a proliferation of tv ads for some medical pharmaceuticals it looks inconsistent if medical marijuana ads are restricted.

    The Tonight Show has had Jay Leno cracking marijuana jokes in his monologue last night and last Friday. It’s about President Obama having an October surprise to legalize marijuana. The punchline is that all the high timers will come out of a fog on election day and say something like what, today is election day as if they don’t know what’s going on. Wouldn’t know that it’s election day? Hah, hah.

    So does Jay have information?

    Is the surprise Barry’s gonna announce a laundry list of things that are getting cut and somewhere buried in there is going to be the automatic cuts that are going to hamstring the feds in all matters MMJ?

  13. Amazing article, this is very important and being responsible with anything is really the lesson here. Great lesson for kids.

  14. OK folks its time to make a stand.

    The only thing that can get things done is money and votes. Most of us have voting rights, some have money. If ya have some money to spare – contribute to Normal or a like organization and/or email this message to your elected officials and stand firm. Also send to like minded friends and family:

    To the President, Members of the US Congress, State and local elected officials:

    Criminal marijuana prohibition is a failure. Over 20 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965 with over 800,000 arrests in 2010 and each year the number increases. The problem is getting worse – not because of the benign plant, but because of the obsolete laws. The time has come to amend criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization, taxation, regulation, and education.

    I can no longer vote for elected officials that support the the current laws. I have decided not to vote for any politician that does not publicly support the removal of all penalties for the private possession and endorse responsible use of marijuana by adults, including cultivation for personal use, and casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts.

    Signed

    Voting Citizen
    & Member of the Movement

  15. I always told my kids it’s better not to use alcohol or marijuana. It’s something you can do without and if you NEVER try it them you never have to worry about liking it too much!

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