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Marijuana Talking Points for Parents

By Terence T. Gorski
May 15, 2002

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Posted On: May 15, 2002          Updated On: May 15, 2002
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

Parents are always asking for information about how to intelligently discuss the use and potential dangers of marijuana with their children.  On May 02, 2002 the St. Petersburg Times published an article entitled:  The Myth of Harmless Marijuana by John P. Walters, the acting U.S. Drug Czar.  Here's some of the information that article and other sources that may be of use in discussing the potential benefits and risks of marijuana use.

1.    The University of Michigan released its the annual survey "Monitoring the Future," which measures drug use among American youth, reports that drug use among our nation's teens remains stable, but at near-record levels, with some 49 percent of high school seniors experimenting with marijuana at least once prior to graduation -- and 22 percent smoking marijuana at least once a month.

2.    Marijuana is not a harmless drug  -- for those predisposed to react with an addictive brain response people can become dependent upon and even addicted to it.

3.    Today's marijuana is different from the marijuama of a generation ago.  The potency levels 10 to 20 times stronger than the marijuana used in the 1960's and 1970's.

4.    Marijuana directly affects the brain.  Researchers have learned that it impairs the ability of young people to concentrate and retain information during their peak learning years, and when their brains are still developing.  The THC in marijuana attaches itself to receptors in the hippocampal region of the brain, weakening short-term memory and interfering with the mechanisms that form long-term memory.   

5.    Marijuana smoking is linked serious emergency health problems.  According to the Department of Health and Human Services, every year more than 2,500 admissions to the District of Columbia's overtaxed emergency rooms -- some 300 of them for patients under age 18 -- are linked to marijuana smoking.  The number of marijuana-related emergencies is growing.  Each year, for example, marijuana use is linked to tens of thousands of serious traffic accidents.

6.    Research has now established that marijuana is in fact addictive.  Of the 4.3 million Americans who meet the diagnostic criteria for needing drug treatment ( criteria developed by the American Psychiatric Association, not police departments or prosecutors ) two-thirds are dependent on marijuana, according to HHS.  These are not occasional pot smokers but people with real problems directly traceable to their use of marijuana, including significant health problems, emotional problems and difficulty in cutting down on use.  Sixty percent of teens in drug treatment have a primary marijuana diagnosis.

7.    Marijuana smoking carries with it the same long-term health hazards as smoking cigarettes, except those risks are higher with marijuana smoke.  People who smoke are more likely to suffer from emphysema, lung cancer, and other respiratory problems.  

8.    Marijuana is illegal.  Using it carries series legal penalties.  All people, but especially children, are at high risk of having their lives ruined by drug enforcement efforts if caught in the possession of or selling marijuana.  Being caught by law enforcement is more likely to result in tough punishment and long incarceration than receiving help in the form of treatment.  Once you get arrested for using or dealing marijuana you can be labeled for the rest of your life.  

9.    Because marijuana is illegal, you never know what you are smoking.  No one sets standards of purity.  No one assures that dangerous by products are not mixed in with the marijuana that is bought and sold.   Some of the most serious problems experienced by marijuana users is caused by the impurities present in the marijuana that they buy.

10.  Buying, using, or selling marijuana put people into contact with violent and antisocial drug dealers.  Many marijuana dealers are dangerous criminals, especially those at the top of the distribution chain.  The more deeply involved people get in using marijuana, the more likely they hare to start dealing with the dangerous criminals who form the back bone of the illegal drug trade..  

11.  Once people get involved in the criminal underworld, it's easy to get trapped and can be difficult for them to get out.  Marijuana dealers are no less violent and antisocial than cocaine and heroin traffickers.  They have just as much money to lose, just as much turf to lose, and just as many reasons to kill as any drug trafficker."

12.  Because drugs are illegal, users have no legal recourse to being ripped off in drug deals, injured or hurt during drug transactions or being threatened by dealers.  

When it comes to using  marijuana a simple saying applies:  The oven is hot, act accordingly.

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