cannabisnews.com: Just Say No Again





Just Say No Again
Posted by CN Staff on January 29, 2004 at 09:58:57 PT
By Renee Moilanen
Source: Reason Magazine 
Iím at the February 2001 Teens at the Table conference, a feel-good event sponsored by a coalition of Los Angeles youth organizations and high schools. Itís designed to boost self-esteem and teach teenagers how to make smart decisions. In one of the sessions, a group of students is about to learn how easy it is to stay off drugs. It doesnít require anything as lame as red ribbons or "Just Say No" chants. It just takes knowing what constitutes a healthy decision -- one that is all your own -- coupled with a little real-life practice.
The kids test their skills with a role-playing skit. The scenario: Two girls are walking home from a party late at night when a car full of boys pulls up to offer them a ride. "The boys have been drinking and smoking," the script reads. "Trouble is imminent."Here is where the teenagers are supposed to call on their newfound decision making skills in choosing whether to get into the car. Theyíre asked to think about their options, weigh the consequences, and decide what to do based on what would be best for them -- no judgments, no right or wrong, none of that thoughtless Just Say No stuff from the 1980s and early í90s. Todayís drug prevention lessons, scientifically crafted and tested, are supposed to be all about teaching teenagers how to make choices, not telling them what to do; respecting their autonomy, not treating them like ventriloquistís dummies.So the teenagers choose. If they donít get into the car, they walk home and everything is fine. But if they do...Boys: Hop in girls!(Eventually the boys get out of hand and come on to the girls.)Girls: Stop it!Boys: Come on, it will be fun!Girls: No!(Car accident.)The teachers say thereís a choice here, but these kids arenít stupid. They can stay out of the car and live, or get in the car and die. So...just say no.Dare to Keep Your Kids off DARE That three-word mantra "Just Say No" became a national punch line for a reason: It didnít keep kids away from drugs. Drug use among teenagers dropped steadily from the early 1980s until 1992, mirroring a decline in drug use among adults. But this downward trend began before the anti-drug curricula developed in the 1980s, exemplified by Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), could have had any impact. The drop was detected in surveys of students who had never heard of DARE or Just Say No. And by the early 1990s, when students who were exposed to DARE and similar programs in grade school and middle school reached their late teens, drug use among teenagers was going up again. In the 2002 Monitoring the Future Study, 53 percent of high school seniors said they had used illegal drugs, compared to 41 percent in 1992. Past-month use rose from 14 percent to 25 percent during the same period.Meanwhile, the leading model for drug education in the United States has been DARE, which brings police officers into elementary and middle school classrooms to warn kids away from drugs. DARE claims to teach kids how to resist peer pressure and say no to drugs through skits, cartoons, and hypothetical situations. Founded by Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates in 1983 and organized as a nonprofit corporation (DARE America) in 1987, DARE is still used in around three-quarters of the nationís school districts. At the annual DARE Officers Association Dinner a few years ago, Bill Clintonís drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, declared that "DARE knows what needs to be done to reduce drug use among children, and you are doing it -- successfully." But as McCaffrey should have known, the effectiveness of DARE has never been demonstrated, a fact DARE America itself implicitly conceded when it announced, half a year after the drug czarís praise, that it was revamping its program.During the last decade DARE has been widely criticized as unproven and unsophisticated. In one of the most damning studies, published in 1999, a team of researchers at the University of Kentucky found that 10 years after receiving the anti-drug lessons, former DARE students were no different from non-DARE students in terms of drug use, drug attitudes, or self-esteem. "This report adds to the accumulating literature on DAREís lack of efficacy in preventing or reducing substance use," the researchers noted. In a 2003 report, the General Accounting Office reviewed six long-term evaluations of DARE and concluded that there were "no significant differences in illicit drug use between students who received DARE...and students who did not." The surgeon general, the National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Education also have declared DARE ineffective.Determined not to repeat past mistakes and prodded by a federal government that lately has been demanding accountability in education, teachers today are turning to prevention programs backed by "scientifically based" claims of effectiveness. In 1998 the Department of Education, concerned that money was being wasted on a mishmash of ineffective programs, decided to fund only those proven by "scientifically based research" to reduce or prevent drug use. Testimonials and we-think-itís-working assurances like those cited by DARE would no longer pass muster. Every prevention program now needed hard numbers, objective experiments, and independently reviewed conclusions based on long-term follow-ups to prove they worked.In 2000 the Department of Education convened an expert panel that judged nine prevention programs "exemplary" for their proven effectiveness and 33 others "promising." Comprised mostly of educators and health professionals, the panel gave the "exemplary" or "promising" nod only to programs backed by at least one scientific evaluation of effectiveness (DARE did not make the cut). Schools using programs that were not on the list would risk losing their slice of the Department of Educationís $635 million drug prevention budget. In 2001 President George W. Bush included the "scientifically based research" criterion for drug education in his No Child Left Behind Act, signing into law what had previously been only administrative practice.But the officially endorsed alternatives to DARE arenít necessarily better. Once you remove the shiny packaging and discard the "new and improved" labels, youíll find a product thatís disappointingly familiar. The main thing that has changed is the rhetoric. Instead of "Just Say No," youíll hear, "Use your refusal skills." The new programs encourage teachers to go beyond telling kids that drug use is bad. Instead, they tell teenagers to "use your decision making skills" to make "healthy life choices." Since drugs arenít healthy, the choice is obvious: Just say no.The persistence of this theme is no accident. Prevention programs can get the federal governmentís stamp of approval only if they deliver "a clear and consistent message that the illegal use of drugs" is "wrong and harmful." But this abstinence-only message leaves teenagers ill-equipped to avoid drug-related hazards if they do decide to experiment.After examining some of the new anti-drug curricula and watching a sampling of them in action, I strongly doubt these programs are winning many hearts and minds. The Class Struggle Against Drugs In September 2001, I join a class of middle schoolers in the upscale Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes Estates as they run through a series of hypothetical scenarios ostensibly designed to put their decision making skills to work. The program, called Skills for Adolescence, is used in about 10 percent of the nationís 92,000 K-12 schools. The curriculum, which the Department of Education deems "promising," "teaches the social competency skills young adolescents need for positive development," according to program literature.Clustered into small groups, each student fingers a wallet-size blue card. The card -- titled "Will it lead to trouble?" -- lists the five questions adolescents should ask themselves when confronted with a difficult choice. Itís laminated, presumably so teenagers can keep it in their back pockets and whip it out whenever theyíre faced with a tough decision and need a quick reminder about how to make one.If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the students are supposed to say no: "Is it against the law, rules, or the teachings of my religion? Is it harmful to me or to others? Would it disappoint my family or other important adults? Is it wrong to do? Would I be hurt or upset if someone did this to me?"The questions clearly are designed to elicit a complete rejection of drug use. Is it against the law? Yes, drugs are against the law. Therefore, you must reject them. Is it harmful? Yes, they can be harmful. Reject them. Would it disappoint my family or other adults? Yes, reject. Thereís no way to make any other decision. "If the only decision thatís the right decision is the decision to say no, youíve effectively cut off the discussion again," observes Marsha Rosenbaum, director of the West Coast office of the Drug Policy Alliance and author of Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens, Drugs, and Drug Education.Another program praised by the Department of Education is Project ALERT, which it calls "exemplary." A series of anti-drug and anti-tobacco lessons used in about a fifth of the nationís 15,000 school districts, Project ALERT boasts that it "helps students build skills that will last a lifetime," including "how to identify the sources of pressure to use substances," "how to match specific resistance techniques with social pressures," "how to counter pro-drug arguments," and "how to say Ďnoí several different ways." Eliminate the psychobabble, and Project ALERTís message is almost indistinguishable from that of the 1980s anti-drug programs that teachers now roundly scorn: Peer pressure is bad. Drugs are bad. Just say no.In a room plastered with posters titled "Pressures" and "Ways to Say No," I join a class of Los Angeles middle schoolers in November 2002 as it breaks into small groups to plod through an anti-drug lesson from Project ALERT. The adolescents have just finished watching a video about smoking cigarettes featuring former teenaged smokers who say things like, "Life is too short. Iím not eager to die."Each of the four groups is assigned a different question to answer: How can you help people quit? Whatís good about quitting? How do people quit? What gets people to quit?There is little discussion. The kids know what the teacher expects. How can you help people quit? Tell them smoking is dumb. Donít hang out with them anymore.When asked if she knows anyone who smokes, one girl nods.Do you think any of this helps?"No," she says without hesitation.Why not?The girl barely lifts her eyes from the paper, where she is decorating the "Smoking is dumb" and "Donít hang out with them anymore" list with bright red hearts. She shrugs. "Some people just donít care," she says.The students are asked why they think kids use drugs.They respond in unison, "Peer pressure" -- the answer they know is expected. When asked to explain what this means, the students conjure up images of older kids hassling younger ones. "Sometimes theyíre your friends, but sometimes theyíre crazy people that come up and ask if you want some," one boy says, drawing on concepts that prevailed during the Just Say No era but have little basis in real life.One boy defines peer pressure as other students "trying to force you, trying to convince you to do it." When asked if heís ever experienced peer pressure, he shakes his head. Heís waiting for a group of sinister strangers to thrust drugs in his face. Drug education apparently has not helped him realize that peer pressure is far subtler, like wearing the same clothes as your friends or sharing inside jokes. And the teachers, by continuing to portray peer pressure as a palpable evil, fail to protect their students from anything. Everything Old Is New Again Todayís anti-drug programs claim to have replaced all the scare tactics of years past with good, solid information about the physiological effects of drug use. But these programs, which are based on the same flawed "scientific" information that adults have been using for years to keep kids off drugs, are a lot like anti-alcohol propaganda from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.Back in the late 1800s, health lessons endorsed by the Womanís Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and its Department of Scientific Instruction portrayed alcohol as a wicked poison that created an uncontrollable appetite for more: "Many persons who at first take only a little beer, cider, or wine, form a great desire for them....The appetite for alcoholic liquors usually grows rapidly, and men who use but little at first often become drunkards in a short time." This selection comes from The House I Live In, a schoolbook written in 1887 and heartily endorsed by the WCTU.A century later, another popular textbook offers a similar perspective on drug use. This passage comes from Making Life Choices (1999), lauded by teachers for its scientific content: "Attachment to the drug becomes almost like a great love relationship with another person. The only sure way to escape drug addiction is never to experiment with taking the drugs that produce it."In the popular classroom video Marijuana Updates, produced in 1997, teenagers and Leo Hayden, a former college football player turned drug counselor, describe how pot ruined their lives. They say the drug made them feel invincible, tired, hungry, and numb. Soon they were slacking off in school, shirking responsibilities, and turning to harder drugs for a better high. Their testimonials, which suggest that pot turns people into useless zombies eager to snort cocaine and shoot heroin, draw on two major themes in anti-marijuana propaganda: "amotivational syndrome" and the "gateway effect."A century ago, kids heard the same warnings about tobacco, another target of the so-called temperance movement. Our Bodies and How We Live (1904) warned that "the mind of the habitual user of tobacco is apt to lose its capacity for study or successful effort." According to the 1924 Primer of Hygiene, a smoker "forgets the importance of the work he has to do, and idles away his time instead of going earnestly to work to finish his task." The Essentials of Health (1892) worried that cigarettes would lead to harder stuff: "It is to be feared that if our young men continue the use of cigarettes we shall soon see, as a legitimate result, a large number of adults addicted to the opium habit."The scientific studies allegedly proving the effectiveness of the new drug education programs arenít much more impressive than the tired rhetoric. Consider Life Skills Training, a fast-growing program that reaches about 2 percent of the nationís 47 million schoolchildren and tops the list of "exemplary" programs. Generally touted as the future of drug education, Life Skills Training purports to cut tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use by up to 75 percent; to reduce the use of multiple drugs by two-thirds; and to decrease the use of inhalants, narcotics, and hallucinogens. These claims arenít based on testimonials or case studies about 12-year-old Johnny turning his life around after a few Life Skills Training lessons. The programís supporters cite actual scientific studies, reported in journals published by the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association.But the lead scientist on those evaluations, Cornell University epidemiologist Gilbert Botvin, is the creator of Life Skills Training and the one profiting from its success. Botvin also sits on the expert panel that deemed his prevention program "exemplary." He is not the only program developer sitting on the expert panel; two other panelists have participated in rating prevention programs they helped develop. All of their programs have received "exemplary" marks.Such conflicts of interest arenít proof that the conclusions are flawed. But independent researchers such as Joel Brown at the Center for Educational Research and Development in Berkeley have found problems with the Life Skills Training studies. Brown charges that the evaluations often focused only on positive outcomes and omitted results indicating that teenagers who went through the prevention program were more likely to use drugs or alcohol than their peers.You Gotta Believe In a 2001 analysis published by the Journal of Drug Education, Brown noted that a six-year evaluation of Life Skills Training reported data only from students who had completed 60 percent or more of the curriculum, just two-thirds of the original 2,455-student sample. The students left out were the ones who missed many of the anti-drug lessons -- probably students who skipped class a lot or were less motivated. Such students, other research suggests, would be especially prone to drug use. Carving them out of the picture inflated the programís apparent effectiveness, Brownís study shows.Brown also found that when students completed anything less than 60 percent of the Life Skills Training curriculum, even 59 percent, their drug use was no lower, and in many cases higher, than that of students who did not participate in any lessons at all. Since the researchers donít give a good reason for using 60 percent as the cutoff point (only saying it was "a reasonably complete version of the intervention"), it seems they simply chose the point at which the outcomes turned positive.Furthermore, Brown says, real students in real classrooms are unlikely ever to see 60 percent of the curriculum, because most teachers simply pick out lessons and squeeze them in whenever possible. The Life Skills Training research reinforces this caveat: Even under pristine conditions, with teachers getting constant training and monitoring, one-third of the students failed to reach the 60 percent mark. And those kids, Brownís research shows, were more likely to use drugs than the students who did not participate at all.The National Academy of Sciences found similar gaps in drug education research in its 2001 report Informing Americaís Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Donít Know Keeps Hurting Us. Too many studies omit negative results, exclude students from the original sample, and inflate statistical evidence, the report concluded. But because the federal government only requires a prevention study to demonstrate a single positive outcome, programs backed by weak evidence stay in business.Another problem with many of the new "science-based" prevention programs is that they continue to rely on statistics measuring student attitudes toward drugs. Project ALERT celebrates outcomes such as these: "Anti-drug beliefs were significantly enhanced," among them "intentions not to use within the next six months," "beliefs that one can successfully resist pro-drug pressures," and "beliefs that drug use is harmful and has negative consequences." But whether a student intends to abstain or believes he can resist drugs does not tell us whether he actually will do so.DARE officials likewise tried to counter bad publicity by falling back on beliefs, trumpeting that 97 percent of teachers rated DARE as good to excellent, 93 percent of parents believed DARE teaches children to avoid drugs, and 86 percent of school principals believed students would be less likely to use drugs after DARE. With only beliefs to cite, DARE was left off the federal governmentís list of "exemplary" and "promising" prevention curricula in 2000. Many schools have dropped it from their anti-drug lineups or scaled it back to the point of irrelevance, a fact that DARE officials concede while refusing to release numbers on the decline.Desperate to retain its dominance in the prevention market, DARE has embarked on a dramatic retooling of its lessons to keep up with the current emphasis on scientific research, decision-making skills, and resistance techniques. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has given DARE a $13.7 million grant to create a new middle school curriculum, which teachers began testing last fall. DARE officials said the new curriculum was drastically different."Itís not just say no, itís not Nancy Reagan," says Charlie Parsons, executive director of DARE America. "Weíre teaching kids how to say no."It remains to be seen how this revamped DARE curriculum is going to be any different from the old one -- or, for that matter, how any of the new prevention programs are different from the old DARE. Many of the DARE tactics now scorned by educators are quite similar to those used in the new, supposedly revised programs. Project ALERT and Life Skills Training have "Ways to Say No" almost identical to the ones taught in DARE. Drug Education as if Reality Matters What all of these programs continue to ignore is the most crucial piece in the drug prevention puzzle -- the kids, and their stubbornly independent reactions to propaganda. They arenít fooled by "decision making" skills or "healthy choices." They know what the teachers expect: Just say no."They make you feel as bad as they can if you do it," says one Los Angeles teenager. Still, he says, "almost every person I know has tried marijuana. Even good people."At Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California, a 10th-grade summer health teacher, Guy Gardner, recognizes his difficult position. About one in four Manhattan Beach students are "current" (past-month) marijuana users, according to the districtís own studies, which puts them near the national average. "A lot of them know more than I do," Gardner confesses. Yet he plays the game, rattling off a list of warnings -- cocaine will rot out your nose, marijuana could kill you, thereís no such thing as recreational drug use -- even as most of his students know how unlikely or just plain wrong it all is.In one lesson, Gardner asks students to name the first thing that comes to their minds when they hear the word drugs. "Donít give me answers I want to hear, give me your answers," he urges.A couple of kids call out: Crime. Death. Stupid. Something that alters your mind and screws up your body.But a few offer another point of view."I think itís bad, but people have the choice to do it, and if they do it, itís their problem," says one boy."If you really want to do it, youíre going to do it," says another, even going so far as to advocate legalizing drugs. "Weíd be so much more chill in the nation."That may be, but saying so is untenable in the abstinence-only world of drug education. Gardner pulls back the debate. You canít legalize drugs, he tells the students, because theyíre harmful. "The ultimate message" of legalization, he says, "is itís OK to do drugs." And that, he implies, just isnít true.In the end, meaningful drug education reform probably wonít come from educators. It will have to come from those who have far more at stake when it comes to drug use by teenagers: their parents. They are the ones who see their kids stumble home with bloodshot eyes, who canít fall asleep when their kids are partying the night away, who know their kids are experimenting with drugs and want, above all, for them to be safe.Thatís why drug experts such as Safety First author Marsha Rosenbaum are calling for a truly new approach to drug education, one that abandons the abstinence-only message and gives kids the unbiased, factual information they need to stay safe, even if they choose to experiment. Such information could include now-forbidden advice on real but avoidable hazards such as driving under the influence, having sex when youíre high, mixing alcohol with other depressants, and overheating while using Ecstasy.One possible model is Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which recognized that if it couldnít stop young people from drinking, it could at least stop them from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. MADDís efforts, which made designated driver a household term, seem to have worked: Since 1982, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of teenagers killed in drunk driving accidents has plunged 57 percent. MADD thus helped prove that we can make drug use safer without eliminating it entirely."There are kids who are not going to use drugs for religious reasons, because theyíre athletes, because theyíre focused on school, because they donít like the way they feel," Rosenbaum notes. "These kids donít need a program to tell them no. Theyíre already not using. But for the kids who are amenable to the experience, it doesnít matter how many DARE programs they sit through; theyíre going to do it anyway....If we canít prevent drug use, what we can prevent is drug abuse and drug problems. But we have to get real." Note: The old failures of new and improved anti-drug education.Renee Moilanen is a freelance journalist studying drug policy at UCLA.Newshawk: Paul Armentano - http://www.norml.org/Source: Reason Magazine (US)Author: Renee MoilanenPublished: January 2004Copyright: 2004 The Reason FoundationContact: letters reason.comWebsite: http://www.reason.com/ CannabisNews DARE Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/DARE.shtml
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Comment #38 posted by John Tyler on January 29, 2004 at 19:33:41 PT
Daughter went through DARE
My daughter went through DARE when she was in school. All of the kids thought it was a joke she told me. The ones that were going to use drugs later in life would do so. DARE classes had no part in their decision making process.
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Comment #37 posted by jvthc on January 29, 2004 at 19:13:40 PT:
I thought the article was good....
I didn't realize there were so many different programs, but as the article points out, they're not all that different after all.When I chose to smoke pot at age 14, it had nothing to do with pressure. I wasn't depressed. My parents were divorced, but my father was a good parent; better than I think I could have been as a single father in the '70's. I had a job at 14, which he helped me get; and it wasn't bagging groceries or selling fries (not that those are bad jobs, but my job would be considered a status symbol - details withheld, sorry).Anyway, the reason I tried marijuana was fascination. It interested me. It was offered by another friend of mine, but he didn't excert any pressure. It was there, he said "you're welcome to try some if you like" - that was it.I could have said no, but I didn't want to. I wasn't choosing it in order to numb myself from pain; I didn't have any. I wasn't trying to fit in; I was already an accepted and liked member of the local social groups, including the parents of many of my friends (I had a few talents that drew parent's attention; I tutored others). Pure and simple, I wanted to understand the high. It hit me the first time, and I liked it. I kept smoking, occasionally, because I enjoyed it. It was like Taco Bell or bannana splits. The flavor of the smoke, the pleasure of the company and the events where I smoked it, even the skill of rolling a joint all appealed to me. I dare say (sorry, no pun meant) that many who try marijuana think along similar lines. I don't think everyone is hiding some pain, or escaping reality. Perhaps some, but frankly I don't think marijuana is as good at numbing one from experience as alcohol is (which is one reason I don't drink often). 
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Comment #36 posted by jose melendez on January 29, 2004 at 15:11:22 PT
age?!
We give them wine on Sundays, and maybe special occasions. (If Michael Jackson was a deacon or a priest, he'd have been reassigned to another unsuspecting community.)We knowingly permit unprecedented levels of what should be called adult onset diabetes - except it's in kids! Got Coke/Mountain Dew/Jolt/Pepsi/Red Bull? (they never gave me any wings, sorry.)We let the school management decide they should get powerful amphetamines and selective serotinin reuptake inhibitors, along with fatty foods. IS ketchup a vegetable? Kids trade Ritalin for cash and buy beer and cigarettes along with laminating paper for those fake I.D.sTreat pot like the internet: tax free, no restrictions, eventually people that are told the truth realize they don't want to emulate crack heads or heroin junkies.Remember: If today's kids were bombarded with anti- bella donna ads, deaths would abound. Don't think the antidrug.con does not know that, either. Cannabis is illegal because it's politically and financially popular.Apologies for the rant. I'll modify it, then send it as a letter to the editor.
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Comment #35 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 14:37:04 PT
yippierevolutionary
That's what I meant by there is nothing new under the sun. Visions and dreams have been apart of all of our lives just at different ages.
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Comment #34 posted by yippierevolutionary on January 29, 2004 at 14:29:47 PT
FoM you are right
I must remind myself that I am young and a fool and people with kids are more experienced and probably right. And oh yes, I am young and a fool.But when I have kids (If I ever have kids, its the last thing on my mind) I want to remember the way I felt now, because I have a strong feeling that I must be onto something with some of my thoughts, at least on a philosophical level, ie kids deserve more freedom and respect and less stres than I had.
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Comment #33 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 14:28:05 PT
yippierevolutionary
I was thinking that drinking age was 18. I don't drink so I forget.
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Comment #32 posted by yippierevolutionary on January 29, 2004 at 14:24:07 PT
I guess my issue is where you define adult hood
FoM you said in post 23 that if it were legal kids could just wait until they were 21 like they do for alcohol.Come on, you know they don't wait for alcohol, thats why God invented Fake ID.The Canadian report said 16, I think that is fair.I think 16 year olds perhaps shouldn't live with their parents. Why do those years have to be so stormy and stressful and full of confrontation and trouble. Is it like that in every culture?Thinking back I am sure I could have lived on my own at 16 with a few buddies. Couple that with not going through the waste and rotting of high school I think I would be a much more serene person, with much less anxiety and I bet it would have delayed my male pattern balding for many years!!
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Comment #31 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 14:23:44 PT
There Is Nothing New Under The Sun
This thread reminds me of life in general. People who are parents here will believe one way and younger folks try to think almost anything goes. When the young folks are grown with families of their own they will understand where we old timers are coming from.
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Comment #30 posted by The GCW on January 29, 2004 at 14:16:22 PT
yippierevolutionary -16 or 18 is appropriate.
21 is not ok.Youth should have less restricted access if it helps their health...what ever that may be.I don't think My 9 year old should be unwinding with cannabis. I don't see that being good for 12 year olds or 14 year olds.I remember when I was very young being served little tastes of booze and that would perhaps be appropriate for a 10 year old.PLUSWhen cannabis is RE-legalized, it will be burning at the alter. Youth should not miss the alter; and that means babies, 4 year olds etc. Some simple smoke coming from cannabis should not be thought of as harmful.I went to a church that burned stuff when I was very young, but I don't know if they were burning the right stuff.
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Comment #29 posted by BigDawg on January 29, 2004 at 13:58:59 PT
EXACTLY
"...gives kids the unbiased, factual information they need to stay safe, even if they choose to experiment."Experimentation is normal. With loving and attentive parents it can be handled with no big fanfare.Unfortunately not all kids have the same kind of home life. There will be those who reach for medicine.....
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Comment #28 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 13:11:01 PT
I Think I Always Agree With You EJ
I don't have any experience with life in the cities. The only experience I have is from where I grew up and it was almost all Polish Catholic, Italian or Jewish. We only had one black person in our school. I must plead ignorance in that area.
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Comment #27 posted by E_Johnson on January 29, 2004 at 13:02:15 PT
FoM a lot of it is trauma
About one third of young black men on the average have diagnosable chronic PTSD.I think the figure is lower for young white men on the average but still peaks among some socioeconomic groups.They are going to reach for pot as a medicine, by instinct.Because cannabinoids are what their brain needs. Cannabinoids are what buffer the brain from trauma. PTSD means the buffer has broken down.
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Comment #26 posted by jose melendez on January 29, 2004 at 12:58:36 PT
Re: #23
hear, hear!
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Comment #25 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 12:47:03 PT
Here's An Article By Marsha Rosenbaum
She is a smart lady.No 'Silver Bullet': http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread18247.shtml
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Comment #24 posted by kaptinemo on January 29, 2004 at 12:42:41 PT:
Will they EVER get it?
*...drug experts such as Safety First author Marsha Rosenbaum are calling for a truly new approach to drug education, one that abandons the abstinence-only message and gives kids the unbiased, factual information they need to stay safe, even if they choose to experiment. Such information could include now-forbidden advice on real but avoidable hazards such as driving under the influence, having sex when youíre high, mixing alcohol with other depressants, and overheating while using Ecstasy.In many of my previous missives, I've detailed that I received EXACTLY the same kind of drug education in the mid-1970's that Ms. Rosenbaum is suggesting. And it was not at any built up urban area, but a rural junior high school, where the biggest extra-curricular activity was Future Farmers of America. By that and getting the 'straight word' from my parents - who darkly intimated that the police would be the LAST thing I'd have to worry about if I was ever caught driving drunk - and having seen instance after instance of booze fueled violence amongst my less sensible peers, I chose to stay away from alcohol and illicit drugs while a teen and young adult. Simply because no one tried to BS me. The honesty was rewarded with the kind of rational choices these 'idjits' behind the moronic "Just Say No!" sheepbleating with their sloppy attempts at manipulation are trying to instill in young kids who are well aware of how they are being coerced:*There is little discussion. The kids know what the teacher expects. How can you help people quit? Tell them smoking is dumb. Donít hang out with them anymore. When asked if she knows anyone who smokes, one girl nods. Do you think any of this helps? "No," she says without hesitation. Why not? The girl barely lifts her eyes from the paper, where she is decorating the "Smoking is dumb" and "Donít hang out with them anymore" list with bright red hearts. She shrugs. "Some people just donít care," she says.**Guy Gardner, recognizes his difficult position. About one in four Manhattan Beach students are "current" (past-month) marijuana users, according to the districtís own studies, which puts them near the national average. "A lot of them know more than I do," Gardner confesses. Yet he plays the game, rattling off a list of warnings -- cocaine will rot out your nose, marijuana could kill you, thereís no such thing as recreational drug use -- even as most of his students know how unlikely or just plain wrong it all is.*Kids just KNOW, antis. They understand far more than you give them credit for knowing. They are not empty headed vessels you can pour your dreck into and expect it to properly wash away their individualistic impulses. On the contrary; they've left a mental drain open just for your BS, and your studies on escalating drug use amongst adolescents is just more proof of how effective the BS drain is.They laugh at you, antis...and I have to say their laughter is joined by my own, ghostly version of my own teen voice, snickering at how people entrusted with so much can fail that trust so miserably by lying to the generation that will someday have to care for them in their dotage. Teach them that it's okay for you to lie to them, and you won't like that kind of world, I assure you...because you're already living in the dawn of it. The DARE generation is reaching adulthood...and they remember who lied to them.
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 12:39:42 PT
Jose
That's true but as far as minors go it isn't quite that simple. If it was legal for adults young folks could wait until they were of a legal age just like the way it is done for alcohol.
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Comment #22 posted by jose melendez on January 29, 2004 at 12:22:14 PT
just admission
"When the fruit is no longer forbidden, it doesn't taste as sweet . . ."mapinc.org/drugnews/v04/n185/a01.html?397
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 12:04:14 PT
That's True
But it also could be why are you using Pot? Are you bored? Are you worried about something? 
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Comment #20 posted by E_Johnson on January 29, 2004 at 12:02:02 PT
The problem FoM
Think of this conversation:Why do you use pot?Because you yell at mom and hit her.(WHACK) Don't you go saying things like that about me when I feed you and allow you to keep living here. You want to go live in foster care? Keep it up.
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Comment #19 posted by westnyc on January 29, 2004 at 11:44:07 PT
The Romanian Experience
Anyone remember several years ago during the Chowchesku (sp) dictatorship in Romania? The Romanian Government believed it could raise children more successfully than other sources. Now, we clearly see 15-years later that there is a society of sociopaths who are coming-of-age. Many of these children, who didn't cry as babies because they knew nobody would respond, have been adopted by American families. For most of these families it became a nightmare as the children possessed no sense of a bonding with other humans. Many became uncontrolable and violent toward siblings; and, in desperation, fear, and heartbreak -their adopted families passed them back into the system creating more trauma. Children can't be treated impersonally on any issue, this will never work!
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 11:28:55 PT
Another Point
If a parent catches their child smoking marijuana it could turn out to be a great experience for the parent and child if they would sit down and find out why. 
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Comment #17 posted by BigDawg on January 29, 2004 at 11:26:16 PT
Age appropriate
The Canadian report came to the conclusion that after the age of 16... there was no serious concern over developmental issues... and cannabis.I DO however understand the aspects of rebellion and am not claiming that MJ is harmful in all circumstances underage.If ever there was teenaged rebel... it was I.
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 11:21:28 PT
About Teen Rebellion
Rebellion against parents is a normal part of growing up. If parents and children always got along then why would they want to go off and start a life of their own? The agitation that occurs between older teens and parents is part of the natural process of growing up in my opinion.
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Comment #15 posted by E_Johnson on January 29, 2004 at 11:19:37 PT
FoM the problem is
People don't like to be objective about parenting. It's a very emotional issue and one that science has always had a hard time appoaching.
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Comment #14 posted by BigDawg on January 29, 2004 at 11:19:09 PT
yippierevolutionary
The issue about MJ use before adulthood is actually legitimate.Sorry, I don't have time to track links to legitimate research... but essentially regular use of just about any drug is unhealthy for a still developing body/mind. So... teens should not feel free to indulge as they like.IMHO, they should be raised with an understanding of the facts... and taught WHY it is not healthy for non-adults... as well as the unhealthy aspects for adults (smoking of any kind is not healthy... tho MJ is less of a prob than tobacco, etc)BUT... kids don't need to have their lives ruined because they experiment with it. That is normal human behavior.Just as kids shouldn't drink alcohol... neither should they use cannabis.I would rather catch my child with a joint than with a beer... but I would rather find neither. It is best to finish developing before using any drugs.
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Comment #13 posted by yippierevolutionary on January 29, 2004 at 11:16:01 PT
EJ I have had similar experience
Not with my parents, but with a school system where education is the last priority and brainwashing the creativity and critical thinking is the only thing they are good at.I too "credit my survival to my 13 year old rebellious brain deciding to reject their authority, and to marijuana, which helped me support that rejection."
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Comment #12 posted by E_Johnson on January 29, 2004 at 11:11:42 PT
Dr. Russo I have a prediction
I believe that teen rebellion is an important aspect of the human brain, built in by evolution, and I predict that some day some bright postdoc will prove it in some fancy journal.I bet the cannabinoid receptors have something to do with it.People are really missing a lot of major points in their rush to be politically correct and say the peer approved right thing instead of meeting the problem with truly objective and multidisciplinary science.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 11:02:13 PT
Teen Rebellion
Again I agree. Having a hard time being raised by parents who shouldn't be parents will make a child rebel. My home life was far from normal but it was normal to me. I knew my limits and respected what I was told or I would have gotten in trouble. My husband reminded me a little while ago that what kept him and his brother and sister from doing too much wrong was the razor strap on the wall. PS: We both came from a country background and that was the way discipline was done back then. I laughed when my mom took a swing at me when I was about 5 and I ducked and she hit the wall and broke her thumb. 
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Comment #10 posted by E_Johnson on January 29, 2004 at 10:55:19 PT
FoM it's biology and survival
"Being a parent isn't an easy job but shouldn't parents be allowed to try to raise their own kids?"I wish my own parents hadn't been allowed to raise me on their own. I wish they could have had tight supervision from someone who knew what they were doing.Their bodies were qualified to make a sperm and egg turn into an embryo, but their minds were not qualified for anything that came afterwards.I credit my survival to my 13 year old rebellious brain deciding to reject their authority, and to marijuana, which helped me support that rejection.Sometimes teen rebellion is all that gives a child the strength to survive some kinds of homes.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 10:52:58 PT
EJ, I Agree
When a society breaks up the family unit and says they can teach them better then the parents it makes parents think what's the use because the govenment will teach them what they need to know. Some parents are bad but many love their children and try hard to do right by them. It's a double edge sword in my opinion.
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Comment #8 posted by E_Johnson on January 29, 2004 at 10:47:49 PT
FoM, there are toxic parents
"Why aren't parents raising their kids the right way in the eyes of the government?"Biological reproduction is something that happens to people, but it doesn't necessarily make them into "parents" in the sense that the politically correct media and the government mean when they say the word.I think that's why many teens reach for pot, to help protect them from the violent or emotional stress in their own homes.
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Comment #7 posted by yippierevolutionary on January 29, 2004 at 10:46:19 PT
I disagree with you GCW
Saying that cannabis is somehow radically different for people over some arbitrary age is the same as saying teen sex is dangerous which everyone always says but I have never seen any reasonable explanation why. 
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 10:45:56 PT
Food For Thought
I'd like to know how many parents would be upset if someone sold heroin to their child?Should a dealer be allowed to sell drugs to kids?Should the government tell parents how to educate their children concerning drug use?Being a parent isn't an easy job but shouldn't parents be allowed to try to raise their own kids?
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Comment #5 posted by Virgil on January 29, 2004 at 10:38:49 PT
I call stupidity.
The objective many agree on is that we need to limit the harms of substance abuse. You know what one act would most immediately impact the harms of substance abuse? The answer is legal cannabis. Let's debate. 
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on January 29, 2004 at 10:29:32 PT
Broken record, cloud7?
Then I won't read it.But I want to say what I think a lot of Us think.It is commendable to help youth resist drugs, alcohol, cannabis, coffee and cigarettes until they are older and responsible for their choices, but caging responsible adult cannabis users is not the correct way to do it.DARE to quit teaching youth that it is ok to cage humans for using a plant, and there would be better results.
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on January 29, 2004 at 10:26:20 PT
What's really missing here in my opinion
Where are the parents in all of this? It's as if they don't exist.These stupid studies, they all use a model where every child goes home after the lesson, to a normal home with normal parents, the kind that the Family Values fanatics believe exist.It's a lie. Many kids go home to places where they are crowded in with relatives sleeping on the floor, they have no space of their own, they have parents who hit them or each other or both, they are surrounded by the full spectrum of adult dysfunction.I think one of the purposes of the War on Drugs is to help keep up the pretense that American family life is by and large healthy.Kids grow up with the capacity to ignore their own parents because in many cases this turns out to be what they need to do for own survival.Programs that teach kids to obey their parents and their communities will always fail, because human individuals are programmed above all to survive, and sometimes, survival means ignoring your parents and your community.Oppositional atitudes become organically ingrained in the teenager's brain -- because this type of oppositional atttitude often needed for survival in a rough environment.Evolution is to blame for teen rebellion and if teen rebellion is ever bred out of the human race -- we will soon thereafter become extinct.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on January 29, 2004 at 10:19:59 PT
A Comment
All these organization to try to help kids not do drugs will never take the place of parenting and being aware of what you children are doing. Why aren't parents raising their kids the right way in the eyes of the government?
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Comment #1 posted by cloud7 on January 29, 2004 at 10:13:21 PT
Broken record
"The ultimate message" of legalization, he says, "is itís OK to do drugs." And that, he implies, just isnít true.This same point comes up in every debate. One of our strongest messages should be that the ultimate message of legalization is that people do not belong in cages for the responsible use of a drug.
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