Kids smoke pot, don't drink

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More American teens are smoking pot, and fewer are drinking alcohol, according to a new survey that's at the very least interesting and could be a push for policymakers to start thinking about how we regulate marijuana.

As the father of two kids, I'd like to start off by stipulating: High schoolers are going to try to alter their consciousness. They're also going to try to have sex. I did it, you did it, we all did it (well, we all drank and smoked pot. Some of us got laid and some of us didn't, but speaking personally, I can say that for those who didn't, it wasn't for lack of trying).

My sainted mother used to tell my brother and me that she'd rather have us hang out in the basement with our friends than go out and drive somewhere at night, and she never adhered to the Catholic doctrine of pretending kids shouldn't know about birth control. Her mantra: "As long as nobody gets pregnant or killed in a car accident, whatever you're doing can't be that bad." Which isn't such an awful parenting lesson.

And when it comes to getting pregnant or killed in a car accident, I'd say it's probably better that kids smoke pot than drink. Not saying either one is a great choice for a 16-year-old, just saying that drunk driving, blackouts etc. are a product of alcohol and that the risks of really bad outcomes from smoking pot are a bit lower.

But there's a larger point here, coming from the Marijuana Policy Project:

 “This report, once again, clearly demonstrates that our nation’s policymakers have their heads buried in the sand when it comes to addressing teen marijuana use,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project.  “Political leaders have for decades refused to regulate marijuana in order to keep it out of the hands of drug dealers who aren’t required to check customer ID and have no qualms about selling marijuana to young people. The continued decline in teen tobacco and alcohol use is proof that sensible regulations, coupled with honest, and science-based public education can be effective in keeping substances away from young people. It’s time we acknowledge that our current marijuana laws have utterly failed to accomplish one of their primary objectives – to keep marijuana away from young people – and do the right thing by regulating marijuana, bringing its sale under the rule of law, and working to reduce the easy access to marijuana that our irrational system gives teenagers."

Yep: Education and intelligent regulation works. When I was in High School, I was one of the very few kids that didn't smoke cigarettes. Today, the number of teen smokers is much, much lower. And the new study says kids aren't drinking as much -- again, no doubt a result of health education and strict regulation.

So if harm reduction is the goal (and it ought to be), why aren't we legalizing and regulating pot?

 

 

Comments

making a comparison with booze isn't one of them. Booze is a structural and lubricating part of our society. And while pot makes people reclusive and paranoid, alcohol makes them confidant and sociable.

So while nobody enjoys an annoying drunk, everybody ignores a self-absorbed, spaced-out pothead.

Of course, Tim, we'd need to hear that you don't want to legalize pot purely so it can be managed and taxed by the government. I know you didn't mean that, right?

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

The comparison between alcohol and pot is this: high people tend to space out on the couch while drunks get behind the wheel and kill people. It's safer.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

That's a total red herring -- no one is saying pot is REPLACING alcohol, so your awesome "social lubrication" would not be adversely affected. The coparisons are valid and proven. Besides, what's the harm in letting people sit on their couch at home while a little spaced out? News flash, there is no harm: plenty of people do that without the assistance of drugs already. Consistent management and taxation makes sense.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 10:41 am

in itself a reason to legalize pot. The question has to be addressed it it's own terms.

The government is entitled to make a judgment about whether having millions of people "spaced out" is the kind of thing they want to officially support. It seems doubtful that they believe that.

And then of course there is a whole underworld of crime surrounding both gateway drugs like pot and the more serious stuff. Logistically it makes more sense to keep them all illegal.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 11:04 am

and it is a simple matter of enlightened self-interest for "them" to judge whether our chosen off-hours activities may be allowed or forbidden depending on the government's needs.

Spoken like a true "moderate."

____________________________________________________http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2012/08/03/supervisors-prepare-receive-mirkarimi-case-ethics#comment-68228
lillipublicans©, often impostered, less frequently equaled.

Posted by lillipublicans© on Aug. 12, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

I find this whole argument of a bunch of kids "Spaced out" ridiculous. The problem that comes from deciding touching matters like this is throwing everybody that smokes marijuana or everyone that drinks alcohol into the same stereotype. "Drinking makes people go out and drive and end up killing people." Or "Smoking pot makes you a paranoid, lazy person." From personal experience when I used to smoke marijuana I didn't just sit there, I liked to get out and do new and interesting things because I found it more exciting. Also I met plenty of new people and was very social when I would go to smoke sessions. While under the influence of alcohol however, I did tend to make more inappropriate decisions but that doesn't mean I was some kind of crazy alcoholic. Many people smoke marijuana and live normal successful lives. Just like with social drinkers and alcoholics, don't mix people who abuse marijuana with marijuana users.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 01, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

Pot ought to be regulated and taxed just like alcohol and tobacco.

Posted by tim on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

Can you point to a credible presidential candidiate adovcating the legalization of MJ? I can't. And it certainly isn't Obama.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 14, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

Hey Anonymous, how's that duodenum taste with your head way up there? And just how did you get it way up there? You must be the yoga master of asininity.
Obvi from your posts a day later, you have no idea what you are talking about and fall right in line with the BS arguments we've been hearing since it became illegal. The states have rights, it's why the Civil War was fought. If they wish to wise up and listen to the people, as they ought to, the percentages are going up no doubt, the Fed has no place in cracking down and penalizing, so it is NOT a federal issue. The federal issue is BSers like you make it so.

Posted by A Lamb on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

Cool, because I think there's a bunch of States in the south that can't wait to ban abortion and reintroduce segregation.

Problem?

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

But then ask them whether they want each State to control policies around race, immigration, abortion, gays etc. and they recoil in horror.

Hypocrites? Oh, surely not . . .

Posted by Guest on Dec. 15, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

what is this 'spaced out on the couch' bull shit? who says thats what happens when you smoke. the affects vary. laziness is not necessarily true for everyone.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 19, 2012 @ 10:51 pm

i smoke pot and i completely get both sides of the arguement,but the thing is before i started smoking pot i was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.then i got beat up quite brutally,and i went into my shell and didnt leave the house for 6 months i left school and everything.but then i saw the light that was emenating from maryjane and i went towards it,4 months later i have managed to control my emotions and i am no longer scared to leave the house. I can honestly say that pot has changed my life for the good,governments can try and keep it away from people but that will never happen,it has been used for millions of years and has medicinal benefits,they call it a drug just because of the happy feeling it gives people. People say that it glues you to the couch but infact it actually gives me the drive to do things,Oh and did i mention i am only 15 years of age.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 18, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

Typical...the government sees something becoming popular, so they see this as an opportunity to make more money, in the guise of protecting the public health and welfare (sounds more like the tactics of a group of greedy businessmen to me).
So basically any enjoyable activity should be heavily taxed and controlled, just so the government can transfer more of our rapidly vanishing savings into their coffers?
I don't agree.

Might as well tax listening to music...or reading a book...or watching television...or writing a story...or going to the beach on a summer day.
If the powers *really* cared about saving money, they'd end the costly "War on Drugs," and stop throwing so many people in jail for petty offenses. But if they did that, then the profits of certain influential large corporations (ie. those that manufacture and supply services and products for use in the prison industry) would suffer...can't have that, can we?

And locking people up forever brands them with a criminal record, and that makes it quite difficult to find decent housing or employment once released. This is creating a permanent underclass (almost wonder if this is intentional...), which can barely house and feed themselves, much less afford these taxes and fees; both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill need to stop b!tching amongst themselves for a few days and address this issue. Perpetual poverty IS a threat to public health and safety.

Or is it more of a "misery loves company" type thing; wouldn't want the drunks to get all butt-hurt having to pay a tax - for a liver-damaging, physically addicting drug that leads to fights, arguments, domestic violence, rapes, general douch3b@ggery, sl#ttiness, deaths due to intoxicated driving, and weight gain - when someone who does a *significantly* less-harmful drug gets it for just the sticker price.
Nope...that just wouldn't be "fair".

I really don't think the federal government has the best interests of the populace in mind here, nor the best track record when it comes to taxation and regulation. They need to keep their noses out of the business of the states; if California or Colorado want to legalize pot, and Alabama or Mississippi don't, then that's their business. Its not as if someone is advocating legalizing methamphetamine or heroin.

There are MUCH more important things that our elected officials should be worried about these days (try on an international scale, folks...), than levying more taxes upon an impoverished populace for a largely harmless vice.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 12, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

Why is the state the ideal level of government where this can happen? Who's to say that counties are not the better level of government where we can experiment with drug policy? Why not devolve decisionmaking to cities or even neighborhoods?

Posted by marcos on Aug. 12, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

The argument is that legalization in one place will affect its availability in others; forbidable based on the much-used "commerce clause."

Righties are all up for state's rights until the subject of wacky 'backy comes up.

______________________________________________________
http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2012/08/03/supervisors-prepare-receive-mirk...
lillipublicans©, often impostered, less frequently equaled.

Posted by lillipublicans© on Aug. 12, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

I'm only 17 and I love smoking weed.
But here's the thing, I don't think it should be legal.
Sure, I have a lot of fun but frankly, after smoking, my memory, will power and motivation are pretty reduced for about a week afterwards.
Also I tend to have a slight cough when I wake up in the morning because the smoke is bad for your lungs.
So I keep smoking to about once a month, during school vacations. During the summer when I don't have to be at the top of my game I normally smoke once a week.
Unfortunately most of the people around me, adults and teens alike have horrible self control. People are smoking all the time, ruining their motivation, failing in school and not being promoted at their jobs.
I use weed not because I want to escape problems, relax, distract myself or because I can't have fun without it. I smoke weed because ON OCCASION it can be a lot of fun. People in our society don't know how to use drugs correctly, be it booze, tobacco or weed. They use it to relax, escape problems and is the only way they can have fun. They are becoming dependent on these drugs and are ruining their lives
Although I may be a hypocrite for say this because I drink and smoke weed I believe all drugs, booze, tobacco, and weed should be illegal and be highly punishable.
Drugs have hurt our society and I would be willing to give up the responsible fun I have with them for the betterment of society.
Until people learn to use drugs for the right reasons they should all be strictly prohibited.

Posted by charles on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

But would you at least grant that *some* people can use drugs responsibly?

I know plenty of people who smoke weed and don't have any issues with memory or self control. They smoke weed and do their jobs/schoolwork just fine. So would you deny them the right to smoke it just because you don't feel that some other people don't have good self control?

Posted by Greg on Jan. 24, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

The guy who wrote this article has it wrong. It isn't public health education that has caused the decrease in alcohol use (tobacco maybe because it isn't obvious until later), it is the blatant destructive power that alcohol has that has convinced our teens not to drink. Weed didn't ever cause a broken home that your good friend had to suffer through, didn't ever kill your buddy because he smoked too much, didn't ever get anyone killed because they were DUI. Weed has never done anything wrong. The worst thing weed can do to you is make you forget why you ever did anything you didn't want to do. Personally, I think that the best way to live is a happy medium between doing only what you want to do and doing what the man wants you to do. If I could choose how to live my life without consequence my decisions would be my own, and that's how a stoner lives, following his heart, his mind and his soul. A true stoner never follows the money. Unfortunately such a philosophy is inept in capitalism. Fuck capitalism. Fuck all governmental systems. Anarchy is the only way you can truly be a free individual. Free from all forces but fate, your neighbors, and nature (instead of all of those things AND the govt).

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 11:17 pm

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