Calling it Medical Marijuana sends the RIGHT message to kids.

Talking to kids about marijuana can be a daunting task for a parent. With 13 states allowing cannabis for medical use, and five others with pending legislation, the issue is no longer as simple as "Just Say No."



Children are not stupid. Indeed, they tend to be more aware than most adults, who, by the age of 30 have generally devolved into repetitive patterns of mind and behavior. We either engage in futile endeavors to preserve the status quo, or launch doomed attempts at improvement by endlessly rearranging “things" around us. Adults, as a rule, have lost true openness and presence of mind. Indeed, the actual present hardly registers on our consciousness, as we live mired in memory, suffer interminable rounds of discursive thought, and forge futile projections.

I admit, I don't give long shrift to adults (and here I include myself). We are as a lot, self-involved, suffer from petty motivations and believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that we actually know something. The messages we routinely give to children are wrought with hidden agendas and confused communication. As a general rule, we believe that children must be shielded from life, which, to the adult, invariably means telling half-truths, downright lies or simply avoiding an issue altogether. Thus, adults propagate a vicious cycle of disinformation which ends in the sad and sorry shutdown of the self.

Telling children the truth, on the other hand, frees both the adult and the child. Initially, it frees the adult because we must actually confront the truth of a situation; and that truth is accessible only by a mind that has become still. Truth is arrived at, revealed not – sorry to say – by thought, but through detatched witnessing. We even have a phrase for it: scientific method.

What is this method? In the most simple terms, it is proposing a hypothesis, and then verifying or disproving said hypothesis through observation. This takes time and attention and therefore is not very popular. It is much easier to repeat hearsay.

Secondly, when a verified construction is, in turn, presented to a child, couched in the caveat that this has been my observation, the child is given the opportunity to a.) learn the scientific method, and b.) possibly apply this valuable resource to her or his own life experiences.

The trouble is, most adults are afraid of the truth. Oh, we believe we can handle it, but that children (or spouses, cousins, parents, bosses, friends, bankers, employees) certainly can't. Worse, we believe there is some personal advantage to lying. But lies are lies, no matter how we rationalize them.

Which brings me to the recent veto of the New Hampshire Medical Marijuana bill by Democratic Governor John Lynch. This legislation would have protected severely ill patients from arrest and prosecution for simply using cannabis as medicine. The bill which passed the Rhode Island Senate by a solid 14 – 10 vote, and the House by an overwhelming 232 –108, would allow terminally ill and acute care patients to use and acquire medical cannabis through government regulated “compassion centers.”

There's a good chance that the veto will be overridden. The tide toward medicinal use of marijuana has definitely turned, with 1/4 of the US population  living in the 13 states where it is already legal. At present, there are at least 4 more states vying to become the 14th, either by legislation or referrendum. Sadly, Lynch is apparently a member of the old guard of politicians who value political safety over common sense and the needs and desires of their constituents.

Lynch's stated reason for denying such safe access to the estimated 150 New Hampshire medical cannabis patients who would avail themselves of these services each year is (and I paraphrase) “I caved to the demands of law enforcement.” Strangely, on this particular topic, law enforcement seems to believe it has a mandate to influence legislation, rather than simply enforcing it. Why this should be so may have a lot to do with the fact that drug enforcement is the big cash cow... but that is a topic for another blog.

And so we come, at long last, to the statement that was the impetus for this particular rant. I quote Portsmouth Police Chief, Michael Magnant, identified in a article by Michael Mccord, as having encouraged the governor to veto the bill:

“Calling it medicine doesn't make it so. It's not FDA-approved, and there's no quality control. It leads to higher drug use, and it impairs driving. I think it sends the wrong message to our kids,”
said Magnant.

There is so much wrong with this statement, in addition to that last sentence, that I hardly know where to begin. Leaving the ultimate truth of his position aside for a moment, I would like to point out the following:

a.) Calling cannabis a drug, doesn't make it so (it is in fact, verifiably, an herb).
b.) Suggesting that FDA approval actually sets a safety standard indicates that Chief Magnant hasn't read recent reports about acetaminophen.
c.) Saying that “it” leads to higher drug use is typical of the empty phrases in popular usage by drug warriors whenever this issue is discussed. The statement neither specifies what exactly is meant by higher drug use, nor what hard evidence, if any, supports this hypothesis.
d.) Driving, of course, is impaired by any number of factors including health, weather, tiredness, cell phones, hunger, eating, worn tires, radio, alcohol, looking at maps, talking, stupidity, and “FDA approved” drugs. None of these substances or situational occurances are banned outright, and only use of cell phones and alcohol constitute vehicular prohibitions in certain states and circumstances.

And finally
e.) It...sends...the...wrong....message....


What is particularly noxious about the last statement, besides its vapidity, is that is is so patently wrong. How can any sane, rational person believe that categorizing, as medicine, a substance which relieves or eliminates nausea, treats glaucoma, alleviates pain, lifts the spirits, and reduces seizures and muscle spasms, is sending a “wrong message” to anyone. It is a true message, a factual message, a verifiable message, and most importantly, by classifying marijuana, or as I prefer to call it, cannabis, as a medicine, we are telling children that healthy people don't need it.

Now, I could end this article right here, but in case I have not driven the point home sufficiently, I will just add that it is my observation (and I invite you to verify my hypothesis) that children do not like to think of themselves as sick, nor do they like to take “stuff” to make them “better.”

So, if you want kids to view pot as sexy, adult, cool, gangsta, whatever, fine, but as for me, I would much prefer them to see it as plain old yukky medicine.                     


For further study: Report on teen usage in medical marijuana states.

First published on OpenSalon


Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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