April 28, 2006
A Different Position on Adolescent Pot Use.Many drug policy reformers are quick to agree that “kids” shouldn’t smoke pot; but there’s a problem with that statement; large numbers of kids HAVE been smoking it for thirty-five years. Not only are they very unlikely to stop, the best available evidence is that–– aside from the risk of arrest it subjects them to–– the practice is far better for their mental and physical health than the alternatives.
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 had bought into the same mind-set that prevents many reformers from agreeing with a concept I’ve been trying to explain to them them since tumbling to the truth in early 2003: pure “recreation” is an unlikely explanation for the repetitive use of an agent at the risk of felony arrest over an indefinite interval. In fact, most repetitive use of any drug is goes well beyond mere recreation— whether the user cares to admit it or not. I’ I'm also of the opinion that–– in any sane world–– self-medication with pot should not require any more scrutiny than is required 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 either alcohol or tobacco; but also diminishes their use. In other words, prohibition of pot–– to the extent it’s effective–– boosts juvenile consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
I also think getting a “medical marijuana” initiative on the 1996 ballot was a brilliant political move because it took advantage of the public’s compassionate response to credible news that some very ill patients were being helped by it. What was NOT brilliant was “reform’s” immediate knee-jerk denial of a political motive when defenders of our drug policy accused them being “legalizers” with a political motive.
Of course “medical marijuana” was political.
Do right-to-lifers clamoring for a ban on “partial birth” abortion ever deny that they oppose all abortion and want to overturn Roe vs Wade ASAP? Who said drug policy reformers had to endorse their opponents’ rhetoric by agreeing that pot is ‘bad’ for adolescents; especially when data from pot users themselves shows just the opposite? In fact, my data shows quite clearly that ever since large numbers of troubled teens first began smokng 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 try heroin.