Well, January first come and went, and Marijuana in Colorado is Legal. I can now boast of being from the state who is on the cutting edge of pharmaceutical legalization. For the last hundred years, the United States government has classified Marijuana in the same group with crack, cocaine, meth, and heroine. But today, you can turn on the news and every time the State is mentioned someone is lighting up a doobie.
I've heard all sides of the case. Several friends have argued....
"It's healthier than alcohol."
"Our prisons are filled with lethargic pot heads wasting tax payer money."
"If we tax it, our states can climb out of the recession and give to education, roads, and state employees."
"There are medicinal effects we can all use to curb major neurological diseases."
"Nobody beats their wife after smoking pot...."
As convincing as many of these arguments may be, for parents out there let me assure you, Pot is this generations epidemic.
For years I've been researching in the hallways of America's high schools, and weed is everywhere. Christian Schools, Public Schools, and Charter Schools; all have similar stats of students who find marijuana a recreational get away. The notion that weed was something only for loosers has faded into history, and now weed is on the mind of most high schools students. Widely accepted today, it's just another thing.
So why should parent's be worried?
1.) Today's Marijuana is more potent than any other time in history.
According to a recent CNN report today's weed compared to that of the 1970's is astonishing. In 1972 the THC content of marijuana on the street was around 3%. THC is the substance in marijuana that gives the user the high they long for. Today's Marijuana's THC has soared to over 13% sometimes reaching the most potent level of 25%. All this to say, the level of dangerous substances in today's weed is overwhelmingly dangerous.
In the delicate time of teen brain development, Marijuana causes several brain functions to re-direct their natural function. Advocates of legalization claim the mutations will level off in adult life, but few studies show the comparison working in this way.
The more compelling studies show the impact of Marijuana on the speedy synapse connections happening post puberty, and show direct re-connecting at one of the most vital times in brain development.
It's not as impotent as we think.
2.) Smoke in the Lungs is Never a Good Idea
After the long debate on cigarettes and tobacco, we know the little air pockets in our lungs are extremely sensitive to air quality. I interviewed an M.D. friend of mine who works in the Oncology Wing of a local Hospital. He made it very clear, "When we introduce foreign substances in our lungs, the chances of lung cancer rise significantly."
We spend so much time worrying about pollution in the air, why would we introduce chemicals to those air pockets transferring Oxygen to our vital organs.
For more information on how marijana effects the lungs an the brain you can read the National Institute on Drug Addiction Study
3.) Behavior and Mental Illness
We all know the intense effort we put into helping our students understand the behavior in a civil society, but few of us understand the emotional anxiety our students are forced to deal with when Marijuana becomes a staple of emotional escapism.
The most recent studies done on this topic can be read at The University of Wisconsin Center on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
And for those who are advocates the media is running wild with reasons why legal weed should be accepted. Even recently Sanjay Gupta did an hour expose on why it might be ok for Marijuana to be accepted in our medical communities. The Special is simply titled, WEED.
From a twenty year career in youth work, I must stand on the right side of history here. I'm concerned for the health and wellness of our students as they navigate through intense biological changes. I believe strongly that marijuana does little to help our kids become well functioning adults.
So Parents: Be vigilant to know what's going on in your teenager's life. Don't be a lazy parent who justifies the lack of honest discussion and potential discipline for the good of your kids. Believe me, the number of students smoking weed today would surprise you, and it might not be that far from your home.