Pastor Lohr’s column on cannabis contains some potentially frightening news. If what he states is true regarding the increase in use among area teenagers, there should be efforts to do something proactive.
In addition, I also believe the medical use of pot, even by “patients”, is not as prevalent as the use to get high.
Having said that, what is wrong with getting high? In almost every culture on our planet, people have used various plants, fermented concoctions and other substances to alter their consciousness. Some use psychoactive plants for spiritual connections. Many use these substances for fun. There is still something very Victorian about curbing fun. Yes, some people cannot handle alcohol, pot, or even sugar (my demon). I am aware of so many other people who not only can handle these substances, but use them responsibly. Some adult friends of mine who smoke pot include attorneys, schoolteachers, principals, scientists, engineers, and housewives. They function fine and contribute greatly to the world; most would call themselves weekend tokers.
When we tell our youth that something like pot is dangerous and they see pot smokers handling adult-world responsibilities, they believe we are liars. Is pot mind-altering? Depending on the amount smoked, it can be very mind-altering. Adults I know make the choice to smoke or not, based on whether they like the feeling. I don’t know any adults who have a “problem” with the plant. If it doesn’t work for them, they quit smoking. How addictive is that? Alcohol, on the other hand, holds much more potential for addiction, actual physical addiction with withdrawal symptoms. Coffee has more withdrawal symptoms than pot.
The youth culture we have created in this country tends to be disengaged from the adult world. They are vulnerable to potential psychological addictions of all kinds. The answer is to get them connected to their communities and the world in positive ways, not to lie to them about dangers in their world. It isn’t a lie to tell students that alcohol and drugs have a much more damaging effect on the developing brain. They also need to know the same is true of prescription drugs we regularly give to teens. They need to know that alcohol kills in sufficient quantity. Pot does not, but it can make some people more anxious. I have seen pot relax ADHD kids. They need to know getting high is why people are drawn to many substances. They need to know they can get high climbing Long’s Peak or running ten miles. Service learning and social action projects, internships in areas of passion and interest are ways to connect students to the adult world. The typical classroom environment unfortunately disconnects many of our youth.
In a different culture we would initiate our youth in alcohol or plant-based drugs when they were ready. We would teach them responsibility by being responsible and giving them more adult responsibilities from the time they enter their teen years. We can’t expect mature behaviors from people we put into a perpetual adolescence. I am always shocked when I visit other countries and compare the maturity levels of our teens versus their teens.
When will we get away from the idea that prohibition has ever worked? The drug war has cost billions and has not reduced drug use sufficiently for all of the time and attention we have given it. It has led our country into unholy alliances with dictators and all sorts of unsavory characters. The war is now destroying our neighbor to the south, Mexico. Yes, medical pot is a way to legitimize something that should be legal in the first place. Colorado can feel good that the medical pot that is probably saturating the non-legal smoker community is not contributing to the terror south of the border. I am sorry for the pastor’s problems with cannabis. Why does he want to create a world where people who don’t have his issues with the substance are criminals?