The mainstream press has been abuzz in recent days regarding the findings of a recent study suggesting that early-onset, persistent cannabis exposure by those under age 18 could potentially pose adverse effects on intelligence quotient.
Yet, absent from the media’s discussion of the study — a discussion that has even included some fairly critical reviews of the study’s methodology (See here and here for just two examples.) — is any talk of the role that marijuana prohibition plays in inadvertently steering young people toward cannabis, an issue I address in depth in a column published today and excerpted below:
Pot & IQ: A Flawed Debate[excerpt] Even if one is to accept the study’s findings at face value, it’s hard to see how concerns regarding the potential impact of cannabis on the developing adolescent brain are any way a persuasive argument in support of present day marijuana prohibition. After all, virtually no one wants kids as young as 12 or 13 years of age consuming a mood-altering substance like cannabis. Yet, under cannabis criminalization – a policy that prohibits its use for people of all ages and compels all consumers to acquire the product on the black market instead of from licensed businesses – teens are more likely to have easy access to pot, not less.
… Specifically, a June 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control reported that more teens are smoking pot than cigarettes.
Not so coincidentally, teens’ declining use of cigarettes has run parallel to increased state and federal efforts to penalize those licensed businesses that improperly sell to minors and to educate the public about the health risks associated with tobacco. Ditto for booze.
In short, it’s legalization, regulation, and public education – coupled with the imposition and enforcement of appropriate age restrictions – that most effectively keeps mind-altering substances out of the hands of children and reduces the likelihood of their abuse.
Isn’t it about time we took this same approach for pot?
You can read the full essay and comment on it here.