Tag Archives: Marijuana

The Pot Piper Leads, Children, Teens Follow

“I’ve seen far more examples of propaganda and unfair marketing practices than I have of reasoned arguments. Worst of all, this kind of marketing targets kids, teenagers, and college students. If we want to make progress in substance use issues, we will need facts and reason, not ploys to grab the attention of our nation’s youth.”  Wharton School of Business student research analyst Theodore Caputi,  recently wrote in an article,  Is Pro-Marijuana Pro-Propaganda?  He’d like to hear more true debate without hype.

Social Media Uses Kids, Teens, Young Adults

How did the push for marijuana legalization come about so rapidly?  The answer lies in a social media campaign by a rich  pro-marijuana lobby aimed at changing opinion.  The Pied Piper has become the Pot Piper.  Young people use social media much more than middle-aged adults and senior citizens.  The largest pro-marijuana Twitter site sends out  an average of 11 pro-marijuana messages per day, according to a study by Washington University psychiatry professor, Patricia Cavazo-Rehg.  Cavazo-Rehg also found that the tweeters targeted Black and Hispanic youth disproportionately, much more frequently than Caucasians.

While Twitter and Facebook have been growing so much over the last decade, the federal government’s funding for substance abuse education and prevention programs has been reduced by 48% during the same time period.  It doesn’t help that a national merchant, Urban Outfitters, has continuously made clothing to glorify marijuana, pill abuse, drinking and now depression.

Surveys of teens indicate they would use more frequently, if marijuana is legalized.  Marijuana lobbyists say they do not advocate for  usage under age 21.  There’s never been a marijuana legalization initiative that would allow users under age 21.  Yet, while NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project “officially” declare it’s not for children, they’ve targeted the youth who wouldn’t be allowed usage under their laws.

Studies show that children and teens have gained the false perception that pot is harmless; this change of perception began in 2005 and grew stronger after 2009,  corresponding to the growth in social media  over that time.

 As the perceived risk in marijuana goes down, teen usage goes up, according to recently-published findings from 2013.  Only Adderall, an ADHD medication, is also trending upward, and it’s being used by those without a prescription.  Cigarette smoking is going down, as is adult smoking, and alcohol use is declining among teens.

Souce: National Institute of Drug Addiction and Abuse, released Dec. 2013
Souce: National Institute of Drug Abuse, released Dec. 2013

Marijuana usage by children and teens has steadily grown along with the push to legalize marijuana and/or expand medical marijuana into more states.  College students use more than ever, probably reflecting this trend, also.

According to the 2013 Monitoring the Future Survey findings, five-year trends show a significant increase in current marijuana use among 8th, 10th and 12th graders.  For example, from 2008 to 2013, reported past-month use increased from 5.8% to 7.0% among 8th graders, from 13.8% to 18.0% among 10th graders, and from 19.4 % to 22.7% among 12th graders surveyed.  Alarmingly, the survey noted that this trend coincides with a decrease in the perceived risk of harm of marijuana use among the same group of students. The annual Monitoring the Future study surveys 6th, 8th 10th and 12th grade students for daily marijuana use, past month use and lifetime use.PiedPiper(13)

Of the top 23 states for teen marijuana usage, 21 of them were in states that had legalized medical marijuana.

How ironic legalization advocates would use ideas like building schools or funding early childhood education by legalizing and taxing a bad habit and dangerous substance like marijuana.   As Washington and Colorado are learning, their states suddenly need to spend money to offset a new problem set of problems.  Taxpayers have to pay for the unnecessary hash oil explosions that have gotten out of hand this year.

Colorado found it necessary to fund public service announcements to warn against stoned driving and against marijuana usage by those under age 21.  The state has decided to spend $2 million on the “Don’t be a Lab Rat” campaign.

Create a Problem to Solve a Problem

Legalizing marijuana to collect taxes and fund drug prevention is the way to create a problem — or make a problem worse — in order to solve the problem. Taxes collected from Washington’s legalization program are supposed to go fund drug prevention programs.   Already taxes in Colorado run far behind what was expected.

States that have had recent problems with pill addiction, cocaine and  heroin, had greater percentages of marijuana usage in youth, in 2010-2011.  They tend to have higher alcohol usage, too.  When asked,  Barbara Cimiglio, deputy commissioner for substance abuse in Vermont’s health department linked the heroin epidemic in Vermont to higher youth usage of marijuana.   “I think what drives this up tends to be the higher use of marijuana, and if you look at the states [with high illicit drug use], they tend to be the states that have decriminalized or have more favorable attitudes toward use of marijuana,” she said.

Marijuana use in the young often creates a-motivational syndrome and apathy, in addition to and apart from the affects of addiction.  It becomes more challenging for many students to keep their educational options open, get jobs and achieve their goals.

There is a connection to regular marijuana usage, gaps in college education and dropping out of high school, which often hinders future success.  “Chronic/heavy marijuana users are twice as likely to experience gaps in college enrollment as minimal users, ” according to  Dr. Robert DuPont, Director of the Institute for Behavior and Health,  in Rockville, MD.

Researchers at Northwestern University recently published their studies indicating the changes on specific parts of the brain, and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has written about some of those findings.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry  warns about  marijuana and young minds:  “Marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development, cognition, and social functioning may have immediate and long-term implications, including increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, sexual victimization, academic failure, lasting decline in intelligence measures, psychopathology, addiction, and psychosocial and occupational impairment.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell should speak out against the growing usage of marijuana at younger ages. The current spike in middle school and high school students using marijuana means that the time is now!


Blindsided by Pot

I experimented and tried pot 4x in my teens. It may have been fun at the time, but I got flashbacks that came unexpectedly. It didn’t happen to those I smoked with; experienced tokers told me the flashbacks were only a part of harder drugs. I was blindsided.

Now I’ve read enough to know pot stays in the body much longer than alcohol and that flashbacks from pot are real.  Some people said the marijuana that gave me flashbacks was spiked with something else.  They were wrong.  I’m glad that very bad early experience with pot prevented me from trying any other drugs.  It scared me enough not to continue.

Flashing forward to the next generation — my daughter was picked up in high school at a Target with kids who had pot on them, but she didn’t have pot on her.  She was very stoic while the others were acting silly.  Was it an act?  It’s hard to know.  The police just went to the parents’ homes and talked to them.  There weren’t any arrests, just a slap on the wrist.

Expectations Slammed

In college, this daughter came home her junior year at winter break in a deep depression, what used to be called a “nervous breakdown.”  Emergency treatment, testing, counseling and good therapy set her back on the right track. Only later did she tell me that she had been smoking tons of pot and it had made her depressed.  She blamed it on “bad weed,” but now acknowledges that weed is really bad for her. Marijuana holds so many false promises.

Some of you who read this will say she probably had an underlying bipolar condition. That’s never been suggested by the professionals, but it had been diagnosed for a friend’s niece who ended up in a psychiatric hospital at age 19. Two or three years later, the friend said she is not bipolar, but she had taken LSD.   I am sorry for these kids and their parents who go through trauma, anguish and hospitalization simply because they experimented too much with drugs and had not been warned properly.

The issue with pot went differently for a second daughter, the child who was always very sensible and responsible, the one you would never expect to try it. She recently explained to me about her pot use.   At age 15, she had been told, “You have to try it, you just have to do it.” The pressure was extreme, although she had declared 2-3 years earlier that she would never be a person who could be influenced by social pressure. (The lesson is that a drug problem can happen to anyone.)

Blindsided by the Gateway Effect

In college, she became addicted to amphetamines. Students who take ADHD medications freely share it and sell it to others. Before college she gave me a scare by having gotten into some of my pills after I had surgery.  Doctors were over-prescribing at that time and they should have taken particular precaution in homes where there are teens.   It all clicked when I recently read the Yale University study that showed marijuana is a gateway drug for females ages 18-25 who become opiate abusers.  As for the gateway theory, some deny it.  It makes sense that, once someone takes the initial risk with pot, their brains are primed for more risk.

So we’re 3 different people from the same family, and we had 3 different types of bad responses to marijuana.  As a teen I was impressed while hearing someone from Alcoholics Anonymous speak to our group. Drugs were big the 70s, but he said alcohol was more acceptable and society should be more concerned about kids using alcohol than drugs for that reason. He was right at the time, but that statement is no longer true. The marijuana lobbyists and pill pushers are trying to make everything else as mainstream as alcohol.

To all the pro-pot lobbyists who say those of us who don’t support marijuana legalization must favor pill abuse: You are wrong! Pill abuse is very serious, but marijuana is not the solution. So please stop pushing it on us and our kids. Please stop saying pot is not addictive. A friend from my generation who spent years being stoned before getting addiction treatment laments, “I wish they hadn’t told me it’s not addictive.”

Final Tragedy from Pot

My brother’s college roommate was less lucky. He was a championship swimmer at an Ivy League school.  Like so many people who were straight in high school, he let loose in college, only to find that marijuana really got a grip on him. He became very addicted to marijuana, but didn’t do other drugs. Eventually he dropped off the swim team and flunked out of school. In those days parents were told to practice tough love and zero tolerance with drugs. They did not pay for him to continue to indulge and he worked as a janitor for the school, to keep close to his friends. He slipped into a deep depression and killed himself. To this day my brother lives with the fact that he didn’t stop him, because he didn’t know it would end that way. Tough love is not a good policy. If you’re a parent, it is better to let those addicted know that you will do anything to save them.

Again and again I hear that the children who end up in treatment for multiple drugs always began with pot. I can’t see why we need more tragedies to learn the scope of the damage marijuana can cause.  Don’t be blindsided.

(The author submitted this story anonymously.)

Marijuana Vs. Alcohol

The marijuana lobbyists want to “mainstream” marijuana and call for its regulation to be like alcohol.  Let’s make it equal to alcohol, they say.   Why are they asking for addiction equality?

When they compare its illegal status to alcohol, they don’t mention that Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935, the year after a 13-year Prohibition era ended.  When the marijuana community decries the nationwide prohibition of marijuana in 1937, they forget to mention that it happened much earlier, state-by-state, 1911 in MA, 1913 in CA, 1914 in NY, etc.

These same marijuana lobbyists keep suggesting that people who drink too much booze or take pain pills should switch to marijuana.   As much as addiction is hard to overcome, the suggestion of substituting one addiction or bad habit for another can just get you back to square one.

Why are we making a second vice, pot, totally legit for those 21 and over while keeping it illegal for those under 21? The minimum age for alcohol purchase is 21, yet the US already has a problem with underage drinking. Why duplicate this problem with marijuana?

The only obvious reason is that there is a business and a marijuana industry that wants to make profits.  Like with alcohol and tobacco, 80% of those profits will come from those who are addicted or over-indulgent.  The growing industry wants and needs to get young users to keep a steady stream of buyers; the younger they start, the greater likelihood of getting hooked.

An experiment with lowering the beer and wine age to 18 in much of the US in the 1970s did not work.  The national law needed to be changed back to age 21.  Elsewhere teens do not go to the extremes that are common to American culture.  We simply are not a modest or temperate culture, like the Netherlands.

The sales pitch of the marijuana lobby:

“Wouldn’t you rather have your teenage son driving stoned, rather than drunk?”  Both practices are very dangerous, and even more dangerous when stoned and drunk at the same time.

“I support legalization so marijuana can be on equal footing with alcohol.”   Pot users don’t have addiction equality yet, but statistics and studies show that 9% of marijuana users will be come addicted (approximately same rate as drinkers) and that rate jumps to 17% if they begin before age 17.

“No one has ever died from marijuana.”  The advocates claimed in the campaign for legalization in Colorado and Washington.  There have since been 2 deaths in Colorado this year directly attributed edible marijuana and many child-abuse deaths caused by the parents’ usage of marijuana.

Simplistic soundbites don’t tell the whole story.   Marijuana is not safer than alcohol, but it is used less frequently by Americans than pot.   Leah Allen’s account of growing up with a marijuana-addicted father is similar to what it would be like having a chronic alcoholic dad: negligent, irresponsible, violent to the mom and prone to anger when he could not have it.

Pot users could be 7% of adult Americans, vs. at about 66% who drink.  They’re asking us to change a law for the 7%, and Parents Opposed to Pot disagrees.  More people die from alcohol because it is and has been a larger part in society.

We’re better at recognizing who might be  susceptible to alcoholism.  We have little idea who is most at risk for mental illness and other negative effects from marijuana.   Certain teens haven’t thought about it, either.  Tobacco cannot affect brain function, memory and mental health the same way marijuana can.

The risk for mental illness caused by marijuana alone is too great not to be noticed.