The DUH! Files: Teen Pot Usage Up Since Legalization in Colorado
The Denver Post article by Nancy Lofholm which broke yesterday exposing the “sharp rise” in marijuana abuse among Colorado middle school and high school students focuses its sights right here in my home town; Grand Junction, in Mesa County, Western Colorado.
Jeff Grady, a local School Resource Officer (SRO) is cited in the article:
Jeff Grady, a Grand Junction school resource officer who has spent 25 years working in schools, tells a story about sitting in his car at a park near Grand Junction High School one day watching groups of kids through binoculars because they come to the park to smoke on lunch breaks.
“Kids are smoking before school and during lunch breaks. They come into school reeking of pot,” he said. “They are being much more brazen.”
Grand Junction tends to be a marketplace for illegal drugs because the I 70 corridor bisects the valley where we live. And yes, ILLEGAL marijuana commerce has INCREASED since recreational pot for people over 21 was legalized a year ago. When “medical” marijuana shops popped up like mushrooms in Grand Junction only a few years ago, the problems related to teenage possession and intoxication rose dramatically despite the notion that only adults with a doctor-issued medical card would have access to the medicinal stuff.
Many, including myself, fought hard against Amendment 64, the “Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol” initiative for which Coloradans voted by a strong majority in November 2012. With a background in public education across many settings, I have an understanding of how the law and consequences for breaking the law are regarded by most youngsters. It is a fact that where pot is illegal across the board, there is less abuse by teens because they FEAR the consequences. True, some just don’t care and come from families which model destructive behavior, but they’re in the minority, and in the minds of most kids, whether or not something is ILLEGAL provides a psychological barrier against using it.
We now find ourselves a mere year out from thy Pyrrhic pot victory of 2012. Are we surprised that despite the fact that the City of Grand Junction and Mesa County have banned commercial production of pot and retail shops within their jurisdictions, and the stipulations in the state law that its legal only for those over 21 years of age, that ingestion and possession by youngsters are up? I’m not. I’m an observer of human behavior, and this trend is as predictable as the massive surge in promiscuity and abortions following Roe vs. Wade, and tsunamis of illegals flooding the country following the amnesty act of 1986. It is human nature to follow the example of the law–whether that law is moral or not.
In the Denver Post article, Christine Harms, director of the Colorado School Safety Resource Center, is quoted:
“The increase of marijuana in schools is not just a problem for school resource officers to grapple with. It was discussed when school psychologists met in Vail last week. “They are seeing more incidents of kids smoking and thinking it is a safe thing to do. More kids are saying they are getting it from their parents.”
Children and families need good examples. American law, traditionally, provided a forceful illustration of healthy civic boundaries, discouraging immoral behavior and encouraging self-regulation. The legalization of pot, a social evil, is a wink and a nod from the government directed to youngsters, transmitting the message, “It’s okay. Pot is a LEGAL substance, just don’t get caught until you’re 21.” Colorado has succeeded in its push to “regulate marijuana like alcohol,” and now there is an additional, very powerful intoxicant to add to the problems that booze and bad behavior already bring to the lives of our kids.
by Marjorie Haun 11/13/13