Well, shit, that sounds a lot like rhetoric, doesn’t it?
According to a study by Christian Thurstone, teens are using (and abusing) pot. Thurstone says he’s seen a rise in marijuana abuse in his substance abuse clinic for adolescents since the medical marijuana laws passed here in Colorado. He reports that the teens in his clinic are getting the sticky from their card-carrying-patient parents.
And we’re blaming the law for this high rate of weed use amongst teens.
Maybe it has something to do with those kids in Thurstone’s clinic. You see, the majority of those kids were referred to the clinic by the criminal justice system. Well, not so much referred as forced: When caught with marijuana, teens are given the choice between clinics like Thurstone’s or jail. So yeah, I suppose you could say it’s the law’s fault that kids are in treatment clinics for marijuana abuse.
To be fair, teen pot use is a serious issue. Or is it? The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported in 2009 that, in Colorado and California, 19.5% of twelfth graders admitted to smoking the green stuff in the last thirty days. That still sounds like a lot, but consider that in 1979 (when the survey was first administered) that number was 36.2%.
Even if less teens are smoking pot today, they’re still doing it. And legally selling marijuana in our state makes it easier for teens to get their hands on the herb, right?
Actually, it doesn’t. If the DEA is to be believed, marijuana is as readily available illegally as it is legally, if not more so. Any teen in a state where medical marijuana is not legal can still buy pot if he knows the right people. (And if s/he wants to buy it, believe me, s/he knows the right people.)
Not only that, but in states like Colorado where medical marijuana is legal, it’s actually harder to get pot. If you’re an adult, you need a referral. But if you’re under 18, you need quite a bit more than cold hard cash. The law states that teens need: parental approval, two doctor referrals (adults only need one) and a parent or guardian designated as a caregiver who can pick up the teen’s medicine. That’s right. The parents have to pick up the pot for their kids. If you’re under 18, you can’t just wander down to your neighborhood dispensary and pick up a quarter.
The law makes it pretty clear that teens shouldn’t be smoking pot without their parents’ approval. So why are we blaming the law for promoting pot to teens?