Americans and Nevadans are discussing, debating, and struggling with many issues such as the national debt, health care reform, the upcoming presidential election, and more. One of the topics on that list is "what to do about marijuana" At this very moment if you read any number of articles, blogs, op ed, and more you'll find convincing arguments for and against legalizing marijuana for recreational use, for and against marijuana as medicine, and for or against marijuana as a substance that the American citizen should be able to choose to use or not to use.
All of these thoughts, opinions, and, in some cases, emotional pleas, have some valid points and both sides point to scientific facts, civil liberties, and common sense. And the debate has become heated.
Like so many other controversial topics, I am afraid that the real messages about marijuana and other drugs of abuse are becoming lost in the debate. While JTNN has a position on marijuana and we will continue to make the case for that position, we also need to be careful NOT to lose sight of the fact that we are preventing drug abuse. That is why JTNN has started the "Talk to Me Now" campaign. This is a campaign that encourages parents to talk to their children factually about all substances of abuse, including marijuana.
So, regardless of one's position on marijuana, here are a few facts that need to be stated,re-stated, and discussed with children and teens.
First and foremost, marijuana is an addictive drug. In the treatment field our experience used to be that people coming for help would often have marijuana on the list of drugs they used but rarely did anyone come in just for marijuana addiction. That is not true anymore, particularly with adolescents. Today marijuana dependence represents more admissions to treatment in adolescents than all other illicit drugs combined.
Second, marijuana use can affect learning, memory, and other important brain functions. This is of particular concern among young people whose brains are still developing.
Third,I've heard many people say that alcohol is much worse than marijuana so, "What's the big deal?" Basing the argument on alcohol being more dangerous than marijuana is like trying to compare a bullet wound to the stomach to a deep stab wound in the shoulder. No one would ever say, "Give me the stab wound!" They are both terrible and both are to be avoided for their own reasons. The point here
is that marijuana use has its concerns and while some of those concerns don't intersect with the dangers of alcohol, they are still concerns.
Finally, marijuana use is increasing in our youth. With widespread availability and a general decrease in society's view of marijuana as a drug of concern, more youth are using the drug. In the latest surveys of youth nationally, in Nevada, and in Washoe County, marijuana use among youth is rising. That point combined with the points above should give us something to talk about with our children or with any youth with whom we have contact.
JTNN will continue to provide sourced information and data to the community about marijuana and other drugs. We want parents to be informed so they can talk with their children about marijuana and other drugs (alcohol included) of abuse. For more information on the "Talk to Me Now" campaign, please go to jtnn.org or call 775-324-7557.
A parent is the biggest influence on their children. Children may not
always act like they'd like their parents to talk with them about these
issues but they need it. If their parents won't talk to them, someone else will and that person may be providing the wrong information.