As the parent of kids, I’m obviously concerned about what they do as they grow up. On the one hand you want them to learn to make decisions. On the other hand, you don’t want to endanger them. That requires helping them to understand right from wrong. That requires helping them to make smart decisions and understand the long-term implications of them.
This is where I struggle with the modern attitude towards the legalization of marijuana. While it may not be a “gateway drug” according to science, it is certainly highly correlated with future drug use, and it has a negative impact on health. Additionally, it’s addictive for about 10% of people and more addictive when you’re younger.
As someone who has watched people throw away their life on drugs and the son of someone who worked in drug and gang rehabilitation centers, I personally see it as a slippery path. I agree that alcohol may be the gateway “drug” when not used appropriately and can be very dangerous for kids and for many adults who can’t control themselves. You can find lots of research on alcohol related deaths due to increased disease burden or simply drunk driving.
So, like many health related topics, the information out there is very confusing for our kids. On the one hand, we point out what your brain looks like on drugs (if you remember the PSA from the 80s and 90s).
On the other hand, we talk about medical marijuana, and we have states where it’s now legal to buy marijuana like Colorado. But, the idea of walking down the street and seeing cannabis stores is crazy to me.
Perhaps a sad sign of this issue is the spike in travel to Colorado especially around Spring Break. They’ve also seen an enormous jump in applications to go to college in Colorado. (I think I’ll bet on causality not just correlation here.)
At the end of the day, I think we want to keep our kids safe and help them avoid anything addictive – tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. (And, yes…you could take this further to look at caffeine or sugars or other things that impact their health.) At a minimum, we want to help them understand the facts and make sure they know the risks and determine if they fit the addictive profile or not. They already have a hard time navigating childhood and adolescence…let’s be careful not to make it too easy for them to fall off track. Unfortunately, decisions like this have broader implications on our next generation even if they don’t actually use marijuana.
Of course years ago, we used opium, cocaine, and herion as medicine also…but we outgrew that phase of “modern healthcare” so maybe this too will pass.