We can smoke pot on the streets of Washington!…
… but what do we tell the kids?
As a once “professional” babysitter who loves children and wants them to save their brains from the potentially damaging effects of ANY substance (sugar, caffeine, pot, alcohol, etc) until their brains are more fully developed (which would actually mean about 28 years old but I’m open to seeing that bend to at least the teen years), I find myself constantly drawn back to the complicated job parents have of explaining drug use to children as a substance moves from a Schedule 1 drug (the MOST illegal kind) to being used openly on the streets with no negative ramifications at all…
Sorry that was long winded.
Anyway, personally, I’m all about harm reduction and honesty. In an ideal world, kids would get an honest and candid education about drugs from the time they can read. The dangers of addiction, brain development issues and potential bodily harm would be taught as soon as children started learning how their body worked, what it means to consume anything from food to medicine and the intricacies of human relationships which can balance on the things we chose to do to our bodies. But, this is ideal and has not been even close to the education most American children have had the past 60+ years regarding drugs.
Unfortunately, there is a group of kids out there (apx. 8-15 I’d say) who are old enough to have been immersed in the crazy “just say no” education yet, are too young to have the complex abstract thinking abilities necessary to deal with the paradox of changing drug laws. Not that these kids can’t think on their own because, trust me, an 8 year old can really blow you away when they sit down and rationalize a complex issue. Yet, developmentally, they just don’t quite have the ability to think independently and outside of what they have always been told was the ultimate truth (i.e. all drugs are bad if they are illegal and, in some cases, they will permanently damage you and maybe kill you)
So my question to you is, what do you think is best? If you had a kid that was raised in a “just say no” education system, what do you tell them when they see someone smoking what is clearly not just a cigarette in front of Starbucks and a police officer just passes by? And, on a broader scale, how do you see the education system evolving to encompass changing drug laws and a more enlightened perspective towards substance use? How do we teach kids the positive value of drugs while also keeping them away from the stuff until their brains are ready to deal with it?
Obviously those questions are super biased. I realize this, don’t worry. So if you have anything else to say in this general topic area, please share!
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@kcv213, well in the case of marijuana, making it a schedule 1 in the first place was ridiculous. That’s the first thing you tell them. And that its legal now because people decided to stop basing their opinions of marijuana on lies that were strung up by people who just wanted to make more money cutting down trees to make paper. That we know adults can use it just like alcohol and cigarettes but that if used incorrectly it may be harmful. That’s how I would probably go about it.
Before teaching them that drugs are bad you teach them what drugs physically do to the brain, i get this is complicated for younger children to understand due to the complexities of the topic, but get the basic components like they change the chemistry in your brain which is potentially detrimental to a developing brain could be understood.
And we’re not supposed to just walk around smoking J’s here in WA, right now we’re in a grace period where police have been told “to issue verbal warning for marijuana use” while the laws are being sorted out but when they do get settled it will be a $50 fine for smoking in public, much like a public intoxication fine.
@3v4n53, Thanks for clarifying the situation. I’m clearly not living in WA right now and, as usual, the news makes things sound much more extreme than they really are.
In terms of education, I’m totally on board with teaching them about the brain as early as possible. I’m more wondering about re-education for kids who have already learned things like “Marijuana kills brain cells!” and then we have to turn around and be like “well… not really”
No matter what you teach kids some will start getting into drugs. And these days it seems to be happening at an earlier age. It is important to teach kids the whole good vs. bad of drugs, but really when you say something is bad and off limits it makes people want it more. The whole “just say no” didn’t work for me in the slightest bit, and it was actually a pretty big joke, because a lot of people in their adolescent years smoke and experiment with drugs, it’s the time for discovering yourself and the world around you, and for some that world includes drugs.
If you don’t want your child to do drugs then it is completely in the parents responsibility to raise them with ignorance toward drugs, or a more scientific and fact based way of explaining exactly what drugs are, how they effect people and what they can do to their lives. I don’t think we should rely on the schooling system to do anything, except teach basic grammar and math skills…. That’s really all it’s useful for anyways. (IMO)
And in terms of switching the stand point on Marijuana, kids I believe will pick up on the fact that it’s not that harmful of a drug, and if they do ask, you can tell them that the government isn’t all that it needs to be and that pot is really a medicine for sick people, whilst giving awesome side effects!
@kcv213, ” If you had a kid that was raised in a “just say no” education system, what do you tell them when they see someone smoking what is clearly not just a cigarette in front of Starbucks and a police officer just passes by?”
I think the scarier thing about all this is that the kid has been conditioned to think that a person smoking a cigarette is ok, and a police officer is passing by. If a big tobacco CEO walked up to the smoker with a shotgun and blew their head off, they’d be arrested for murder. But if they sell them a product that is packed chock full of addictive chemicals and industrial poisons, which kills them over the course of several years and has the same result in the end as just gunning the person down, somehow this is not only different from murder, but totally accepted in our society – the fact that while you can’t kill someone in certain ways, but you absolutely can in others, especially if you make it look like the person is killing themselves. When you really think about it, this society we live in spouts all kinds of self-righteous morality crap on one end, and then breaks all of its own rules. And we call the people who do such things responsible adults, role models, successful people worthy of our respect. THAT is a hell of a lot scarier than marijuana, if you ask me.
In all honesty though, how do we tell kids about marijuana? The same way we tell them about alcohol, really. I mean, little kids might already be seeing their parents drink something that is not just juice at home. I feel this new step towards legalization isn’t really going to change much, since people, even cops, all know deep down that there really isn’t anything wrong with marijuana. Cannabis culture also wasn’t really a down-low thing before either….it’s pretty well out in the open as it is already.
Just because it was schedule I (MOST illegal) does not mean it’s worse than Schedule II. Governments classing of drugs is ridiculous.
Anyways, weed isn’t that bad, if it’s ‘bad’ at all. I would consider it 100% safe for matured teenagers (definitely safer than alcohol). If I had an 8 -15year old kid raised in a ”just say no” system and asks me what kind of blunt the man in the corner is smoking, I will tell them it’s a marijuana plant, and that it has no use for them at this age. I will allow them to do their own research through the internet and stay neutral about the drug. In fact, I would probably smoke a joint with my son when he’s 16, hehe, but that;s just me.
@theskafish, ”If a big tobacco CEO walked up to the smoker with a shotgun and blew their head off, they’d be arrested for murder. But if they sell them a product that is packed chock full of addictive chemicals and industrial poisons, which kills them over the course of several years and has the same result in the end as just gunning the person down, somehow this is not only different from murder, but totally accepted in our society”
Well the difference is that the victim who got his head blown off had no choice to live, that is murder.
Selling cigarettes is not murder, it is the consumers choice to kill himself with it. There are clear warning messages on tobacco products. If I offer you a bottle of poison with a written warning on it and you drink it with your own free will, I did not murder you.
@kcv213, Are you totally sure marijuana use DOESN’T kill brain cells? I mean… there’s just so little solidified evidence supporting claims for marijuana because of the legal status.
Of course hopefully with changing laws there will be much more research done that will allow the killing of an unnecessary stigma and open people’s minds to the reality of the plant, something we are still in a gray area with the same as legal statuses.
There have been studies suggesting that longterm use does in fact have harm on the brain (not totally sure in terms of against harm done by alcohol, that’s probably more severe). Also there is completely blatant evidence of short-term memory loss, of course.
And we also have to consider that there’s things in the marijuana SMOKE that will definitely harm the body drastically if consumed in large doses, just because it’s smoke. There’s 50 more carcinogens in the smoke than cigarette smoke.
And then we also have to consider what percentage of that is smoked out of blunts – a tobacco product. Double whammy.
There have been studies suggesting it’s linked to brain cancer. :(
Not saying you’re wrong necessarily, just saying to immediately assume this means marijuana is safe is shortsighted.
@kcv213, First off as with Cigarettes, it has been proven that legalization and education have lower rates of use by kids 17 and under than prohibition. So what I’m saying is, fear tactics don’t have to be used in educating these kids. They should be told that it feels good and can be used as medicine. But if they were to use it, it would mess their heads up, lower their IQ and give them a lower quality of life. Then tell them its practically safe to use once they reach a certain age (18,21). Like someone said earlier, most of them will smoke pot in high school or college at least once. Especially with Cannabis becoming evermore mainstream. I know alot of the problem I’ve seen with highschool students (im only 21 and have two siblings in high school), is alot of them want to emulate rappers such as Lil wayne and 2 chainz. But again this could be said for many generations.
@stefan, “If I offer you a bottle of poison with a written warning on it and you drink it with your own free will, I did not murder you.”
But if you were a good person you would never have offered me a bottle of poison to begin with, warning or not. And you certainly wouldn’t advertise poison on billboards and magazines. Cigarette manufacturers know full well that their product is harmful and they intentionally design it to be addictive. You always have a choice not to start smoking cigarettes, nor to continue smoking them. But their addictive properties, once again their intentionally made addictive properties, actively impair your ability to make that choice. I have met several people who are addicted to cigarettes. Their ability to choose not to smoke is definitely impaired, and they would have real, physical side effects if they quit smoking.
Cigarette CEOs profit from other people’s addiction and suffering, if you ask me that qualifies them as drug dealers and murderers and if we’re going to throw drug dealers and murderers in jail, then they should be jailed. They are not good people. This is what I’m talking about…..it really makes me lose respect for society when I see that so much evil is blatantly allowed for, all the while it blathers on about what’s right and what’s wrong.