Legalization of Marijuana: What About the Kids?


Endorsing marijuana has become a “cool” thing to do these days, after the legalization movement has gained its full momentum. It’s not even the matter of endorsing marijuana; the movement to end the prohibition has become so much more than that – it is now an effort to undo the damage done by it’s criminalization, from out-of-control consumption among the youth, massive number of arrests that damages entire families, crime and violence that comes with the multi-billion dollar black market. The promise of tax revenues coming from legal sales of marijuana has been the inspiration for many to change their minds and vote in favor of legalization. With all these significant changes that will affect society at large, one must wonder how will they affect its most fragile members – the children.

Parents see potential dangers on the horizon

The major concern among many parents is that marijuana legalization might send the wrong message to their kids that it’s OK to smoke marijuana, which might lead to an escalation in teenage consumption of the drug. Regardless of numerous studies reporting on high-school marijuana use being in decrease (this happened in Colorado) or researches which found that a majority of teens think they wouldn’t try marijuana even if it was legal, parents are not assured that legalization will not affect their kids. Are these fears rational?

Surely, this calls for re-thinking of previous strategies in dealing with drug abuse. Teenagers and even children younger than the age of 13 have used marijuana, as well as alcohol, for decades. When dealing with this issue parents’ and educators’ most frequently used tactic was either advocating abstinence or various, ineffective scare tactics. None of this has ever stopped anyone if they decided to start experimenting with marijuana.

Unique opportunity for schools

Instead of turning a blind eye on the legalization, schools should embrace it and turn it to their advantage in terms of starting honest conversations with teenagers. If it’s impossible to scare young people away from marijuana, then surely adults can teach them something about balance and responsible consumption. Parents will never stop believing that abstinence is not the best policy when their children and marijuana are in the same picture, however, that is most often counterproductive. And a form of hypocrisy as well! Many of those parents have had direct experience with marijuana, and look at them – still alive and functioning well as members of the society. Surely, they can teach their children about pros and cons of marijuana use?

When complex topics such as this one are concerned, there are no simple answers, to any of the raised questions. Laws have to protect the kids, but we all know that is far from enough when protection is concerned. Ultimately, sound science, openness and honesty, education of all parties, and most of all, loving communication between parents and their children should be the guide in society’s approach to teenagers and marijuana issue (and other drugs as well, whether legal or not).


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