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August 31, 2005

A Different Position on Adolescent Pot Use.

Many drug policy reformers are quick to agree with their political opponents that "kids" shouldn't smoke pot. But there's a problem with that statement; large numbers of them have been smoking it for thirty-five years. Not only are kids unlikely to stop trying marijuana, the best available evidence is that, aside from risk of arrest, the practice is far better for their mental and physical health than any alternative agents they may be drawn to.

In November 2001, when I began screening medical cannabis applicants at the largest buyers' club in the Bay Area, I had no idea I was starting a project which would soon take over my life. I now also realize that I'd bought into the same mind-set that prevents many reformers from agreeing with a concept I've been trying to explain to them since I'd tumbled to it in early 2003: pure "recreation" is an unlikely explanation for repetitive use of any agent over an extended interval; especially at the risk of felony arrest. In fact, most repetitive use of any drug has a more serious purpose than mere recreation. I'm also of the opinion that, in any sane world, self-medication with pot shouldn't require a prescription any more than one should need one to buy coffee at Starbucks, a six pack at the 7-11 or a pack of cigarettes at the local smoke shop. Beyond that, pot not only treats the same symptoms more effectively than alcohol and tobacco do; it also diminishes their use. In other words, prohibition of pot, to the extent it's effective, boosts juvenile consumption of both of the more dangerous agents.

I also think getting a "medical marijuana" initiative on California's 1996 ballot was a brilliant political move because it took advantage of the public's compassionate response to credible evidence that some very ill patients were being helped by it. What was NOT a brilliant was "reform's" knee-jerk denial of any political motive when every deputy sheriff in California began accusing us being "legalizers."

Of course "medical marijuana" was/is political.

Do right-to-lifers clamoring for a ban on "partial birth" abortion ever deny they are working to outlaw all abortion? Who said drug policy reformers had to endorse their opponents' rhetoric by agreeing pot is "bad" for adolescents; especially when data from pot users themselves shows just the opposite is true? In fact, the latest analysis shows quite clearly that ever since large numbers of troubled teens first began smoking pot in the late Sixties, the age at which they first try it has been declining steadily-- right along with the rate at which they also tried heroin.

Some "gateway."

Dr. Tom

Posted by tjeffo at August 31, 2005 08:49 PM