The writing is on the wall, it seems. Pot is going mainstream.
The momentum seems to be squarely behind the efforts of those who advocate for the legalization of marijuana. Twenty states have medical marijuana dispensaries, including New Jersey. Two states have legalized recreational use and 11 states plus DC have pledged their support for the House of Representatives bill “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013,” which would prohibit the federal government from interfering with a state’s marijuana laws. Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder called the governors of Colorado and Washington to let them know that the Department of Justice would leave those states alone, for now, concerning their recreational use laws.
Like rap music and twerking, here’s something else I have to live with that I just don’t understand.
I’m a baby-boomer and a mother so I come at this issue with that baggage. Let’s start with the baby boomer piece. Drugs were a defining hallmark of the baby boomer era, for sure, and we knew there was a certain “hierarchy” to drug use; pot was not so bad, heroin was really bad and there was lots of stuff in the middle. We knew, though, that even though it was on the less harmful side of the spectrum, it was still an illegal and unregulated substance; a “gateway” drug that lead to stronger, more serious drug abuse. So what happened? It’s not bad anymore?
Here’s the mom part. My college-age daughter tells me it’s nothing to worry about.
“All my friends smoke weed,” she says, “and no one is moving on to heroin or flunking out of school. It’s just not a big deal anymore.”
Overall drug use for the 12-to-17-year-old age group has declined almost 12 percent in the last 10 years while marijuana use has been climbing since 2008. So, what does that mean?
Maybe daughter is right and pot smoking isn’t the sinister gateway drug to needles and crack pipes. But does that make it an any less harmful and unregulated a substance? Each year about 1,825 college age students between the ages of 18 and 25 die from alcohol-related injuries. I don’t know how many die from marijuana related injuries (what would that be anyway, falling off the couch?) but 374,000 Americans 12 and older enter emergency rooms with a primary marijuana problem so equating drinking and marijuana use doesn’t exactly set my worries at ease.
A new marijuana breathalyzer is being developed to determine impairment as an aid to law enforcement in traffic stops and apparently, the strength and chemical content of marijuana can, in fact, be regulated at the growing stage. So, like alcohol and cigarettes, it looks like pot can be regulated and, therefore, can be legalized—even though it is associated with dependence, respiratory illness, poor motor performance and impaired cognitive and immune system functioning. Studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Oh hell, so does parenting.
I give up. Just no rap or twerking, okay?