Straight Talk Advice

Mar 25, 2009

Will teens smoke more dope if pot is legal?

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I’m writing about marijuana legalization, which is being discussed in California. As California’s largest cash crop, I understand the appeal to solve the state’s economic problems through regulating this drug, but I worry that more teens will become addicted and at younger ages. From your vantage point, do you think legalization will cause an increase in use among teens? — Gary, Huntington Beach

Charles 23, Sacramento, CA Ask me a question

We have lots of freedom in America. People do what they want in the privacy of their homes no matter what the government says. The argument that kids will smoke more pot if it’s easily obtainable is flawed. It’s already freely available! Prohibition was a disaster and the current drug cartels will continue as long as pot remains illegal. I’m pro drug control, however, there is no ethical difference between the 21-year-old who drinks and the 21-year-old who smokes weed.

Emily 16, Sacramento, CA Ask me a question

Teens do drugs mainly because it’s sneaky and illegal. If weed was legal, they wouldn’t find as much rush in it and would cut down. But that doesn’t mean it should be legalized — more people, into adulthood, would ruin their lives with it.

Jacob 20, Arcata, CA Ask me a question

Marijuana is already legal in California for medical purposes. Fully legal, the price and tax will skyrocket like for cigarettes, and people would smoke less due to the higher prices.

Ashley 21, Auburn, CA Ask me a question

If cigarettes and alcohol are legal, marijuana should be, too. It’s not as bad for you and lots of people already use it. But there should be no advertising, and no other drugs should be legalized.

Michael 17, Fair Oaks, CA Ask me a question

It’s no worse than cigarettes and alcohol, so yes, legalize it. But it bothers me that it’s being debated as a fix for the economy instead of on its own merits. Right now 80 percent of young people don’t see weed as bad. But remove parental disapproval (a big reason many teens don’t use) and use would probably go up. My worries: Would we become slower and dumber? How will second-hand smoke affect children?

Elizabeth 20, Rocklin, CA Ask me a question

It shouldn’t be legalized. There would be more dropouts, more unemployment, more “high” drivers, more obesity.
Graham, 15, Fair Oaks CA: People who want to smoke pot already do. Once legal, people will buy it highly taxed rather than from a dangerous underground network — and it won’t be laced.

Lara 17, Fair Oaks, CA Ask me a question

The mind is amazing and right now we need good minds. People think weed enlightens you but it doesn’t. Regular users just can’t remember what a natural high feels like. Yet, I am for legalizing it. I’ve smoked it, and I think if people could try it legally, paying taxes and lowering crime, and if money went for education and health awareness, fewer people would get addicted.

DEAR GARY: I live, breathe, and teach addiction-free living and here is why I support marijuana legalization: When alcohol prohibition ended, and when cigarettes became commercially viable, use increased for both. But since the 1970 ban on TV ads for cigarettes — and a society-wide increase in health consciousness — both cigarette and alcohol consumption per capita have decreased. I believe the same thing would happen with marijuana. At first, due to novelty, use would increase, but if advertising was barred and money went into education around marijuana, I believe use would fall rapidly below current levels. Another improvement would be the availability of weaker grades of cannabis (teens today smoke pot 10 to 25 percent stronger than their parents smoked). Marijuana is no more a gateway to harder drugs than alcohol — the real gateway is the black market. By legalizing marijuana, youth exposure to the black market will become almost non-existent — and after an initial “honeymoon” of increased use, I believe use will drop off.

  1. By Anonymous, age , on 06/07/2009

    One night at dinner we mentioned that we needed some medical marjuyana. Immediately the two young people who were with us were both on the phone making arrangements. This concerned me. Its use does have a dumbing down effect and we need good minds. Legalized it would reduce/eliminate the exposure to the black market. Tax monies could be used for education.

    Would they use it more? These two say they don’t use it. I don’t know. I do know they drink.

    Personally, I feel college bound students who have good communication/discussions with their parents are less likely to go beyond occasional use. It seems our culture needs to give students from rough family backgrounds who may not be intellectually bright some other meaningful education and self-worth. 

    From AndersonCoopers report sounds like eliminating the flow into the us is the only way to stop . . .

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  2. By Dick Parsons, age , from San Juan Capistrano, CA on 08/17/2009

    Hi Lauren, I read your article on marijuana today by accident and was surprised that someone as educated as you (with a degree) is not aware of the dangers of this drug. The idea that legalizing it would eventually lead to the decline of its use is speculative at best! It’s like the promises of all the states, including California, that promised that they would save our schools by legalizing gambling – and hundreds of millions of dollars would go into education. Did that happen? No! The net result was that they pay an administrator $450,000 a year to manage the program – and 5% of the money goes into education! 5%!!!! What a price for the millions of people pouring their hard earned money into first, government bureaucracy – and second, the coffers of Indian tribes who all drive around in Rolls Royce’s and live in $5 million homes! Now they want to take this plan to the Internet so that you can gamble away your money in the comfort of your home!

    On marijuana, I never used the drug – but it is a killer! The idea that it doesn’t lead to worse addiction is not true! You can find thousands and thousands of stories on the Internet where lives were destroyed. I had first hand experience in the Army in Vietnam – soldiers who used it only casually had poorer vision, poorer hearing and poorer reflexes – and died on patrol. I lost a lot of buddies that way! I had quite a few whose brains were fried and they never were the same – never!!!!

    So – how many lives should we give up to be more liberal in our thinking? 10 – 1,000 – 10,000 – or how about a million? The government will take the tax money – spend it bailing out another car company – put back 5% into education and young lives will be shattered. That’s a fact you can count on.

    I am not here to judge you. It is still a free society. I just wanted to share my views. I will continue to tell my grandchildren the dangers of any kind of drugs and will never encourage the legalizing of any of them that could take just one life.

    Does any of this make sense to you or am I just whistling Dixie? I don’t expect to hear back from you but then again – maybe you will surprise me?

    Dick Parsons
    San Clemente, CA

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  3. By Elise, 17, age , from Fair Oaks, CA on 08/17/2009

    It’s funny that this question comes up right now because I have a homework assignment in strategic studies about the legalization of weed. I am supposed to come up with what I would choose. As of right now I am not quite sure. I am very torn on this issue because first of all, I very very strongly disagree with any drug including marijuana and I am definitely against having it available to those who can get it easily. However, I do think that it would be able to help our economy immensely. I think overall that my opinion would be that Marijuana should not be legalized and I say this because I am against any substance which harms the body. I think that we can find another way of coping with the economy, a way that will not put even more people at health risks

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  4. By Mariah, 16, age , from Collinsville, OK on 08/17/2009

    I am pretty sure that marijuana isn’t physically addictive, and if there was an age limit on it, like cigarettes or beer, and limits on how much you can have, and have in possession at a certain time in regards for how old you are, and laws like, not smoking and driving like not drinking and driving, and only being able to smoke in certain area, it could work. They just have to put a lot of rules and regulations in place.

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  5. By Chris, 21, age , from San Pedro, CA on 08/17/2009

    Regarding the Marijuana issue – I think there’s a lot of debate and controversy to be had over the matter. On the one hand, legalizing Marijuana would bring a good sum of revenue for the state of California, and at this point anything helps. But on the other hand, legislating a taxable crop that has been illegal for so long might bring a whole new bag of problems. Such as, what will become of all the criminals put away because of the sale, growth or transportation of pot. Where will it be sold, how will it be regulated, and will this be endorsing the use of a once illegal drug. Many believe that Marijuana is a gateway drug that often leads to the use of more serious drugs. Could legislating Marijuana turn more young “experimenters” into long time users? Another concern of mine is what kind of message will our youth interpret because of this act. If Marijuana is determined legal, will they doubt the seriousness of other types of drugs? Could Marijuana legislation open the doors to legalization of other currently illegal drugs. These types of questions need to be taken into account before legalization. It all seems like a bit of a contradiction to me, but in all honesty this economic situation does not look any prettier.

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  6. By Lennon, 22, age , from Fair Oaks, CA on 08/17/2009

    I read a lot about it in The Bee, main article and letters to the editor, and found that there really are not any good arguments for keeping it illegal, and if there are, they are no doubt somewhat archaic or derived from the feeling that we may have actually been wrong all this time, in keeping it illegal. People who argue that it would create more addicts that would need help are, in my opinion, wrong. We already have facilities set up for drug and alcohol abuse, and pot is easier for kids to come by than alcohol. On top of that, we’d be saving a bundle in prison costs, putting drug cartels out of business, simulating our economy, not only through sales of pot, but through the extra food people will buy.

    Treat it like alcohol. 21 to buy/use, not in public, and not around schools. “Bar” type places could be restaurants to keep customers there and make more money, and you’d never have to worry about fights or anything else like that. The hardest thing to do would be to make people get up and leave.

    Also, with the government regulating it, people would get higher quality stuff, or they could grow it themselves (if over 21). Although “cutting” drugs tends to happen mostly with harder drugs like cocaine and heroine, it can still happen with pot. A little PCP mixed in with weed is not fun. If you’re optimistic about it, and expect that the government treat it as equivalent to alcohol, I can’t see how we can go wrong. Seeing that it technically is smoking, I think advertising should be restricted to on-store only. Baby steps people, baby steps.

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  7. By Tonja Renee, age , from Coleman, Texas on 10/25/2010

    I dont see why you guys have such a problem with pot. Honestly, it should be legalized. It is completely different that meth, coke, crack, etc… IT SHOULD BE LEGAL!!!!!!! I should know. It is more like ciggarettes so if your gonna say no pot than no ciggarettes. that my opinion. thank you.

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