Giving Teens Facts about Drug War

Giving Teens Facts about Drug War
Posted by FoM on May 01, 2001 at 23:36:15 PT
By Thom Marshall
Source: Houston Chronicle 
We should be careful what we tell teen-agers. Speak out against the nation's failed drug war policies and you can expect to hear that comment from people who fear that kids can't handle the truth or could misapply the facts. One particularly angry man told me we must be careful what information we make available to teen-agers after I had passed along some information from one of the scientific community's leading pharmacologists, G. Alan Robison. Robison, who also is a founder of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, once tested marijuana for toxicity by feeding it to rats to determine what amount would prove fatal. 
What Robison discovered was that marijuana doesn't kill rats. Booze kills them. Tobacco kills them. Marijuana doesn't kill them. The angry man did not dispute the scientific finding, but he contended that if we tell kids such a thing, they will view it as an endorsement of doing drugs, take it and run with it to the nearest street-corner dealer. I told the fellow that he and I actually agree on a very basic point. We both hate to see any kids using any mind-altering substances. We both believe in making an effort to convince kids to leave drugs alone. But when the discussion progresses to how that can best be accomplished, we go in opposite directions. Kids know more than we think:He thinks that telling kids the whole truth about drugs won't work. And I, like a rapidly growing number of Americans, am convinced that the government's practice of dispensing misinformation and partial truths through the years has failed miserably. Actually, if the angry man were to check into it, he would find teen-agers who already have a deeper understanding of society's drug problems than do many adults. Nick Peraino, for example, is a student reporter for The Oracle, the newspaper of Stratford High School in the Spring Branch Independent School District. Because of his newspaper editorial titled "Stop the Madness," Peraino has been named recipient of the Peter McWilliams Award to be presented Sunday by the Drug Policy Forum of Texas at the 2001 Cannabis Odyssey. "The drug war has been a sorry failure," Peraino wrote in the editorial. "We've squandered billions of dollars on a fight we are far from winning. The drug war has had brutal consequences on minority and inner-city neighborhoods and grossly overcrowded America's prisons. In fact, the country has become a virtual police state while citizens conform to `tough' drug laws." Peraino, 18, is a senior and in the top 15 percent of his class with plans to go to the University of Texas. He said his knowledge and opinions of drug war matters developed over the past couple of years. "I started reading about some of the victims of the drug war," he told me, "and about the massive incarcerations." He also learned from the experiences of a couple of friends who were arrested on marijuana charges. (He said his own background includes no such encounter with the justice system.) Rallying against drug laws:He wrote his editorial in support of a couple of bills in Austin, one that would allow use for medical necessity as a defense in marijuana possession cases, and one that would reduce punishment for possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana so that no one would face jail time for a first-time offense. "Marijuana has proven medical benefits for glaucoma, anxiety, AIDS patients and various other ailments," Peraino wrote, "and it is substantially less toxic than alternative medicinal drugs." Peter McWilliams, for whom the award is named, was an author who died in California last year of complications from AIDS. The government would not allow him to use marijuana to combat his symptoms, and the Drug Enforcement Administration arrested him and two friends who were conducting studies on marijuana's use as a medicine. The 2001 Cannabis Odyssey, on the banks of Buffalo Bayou, is part of the annual Westheimer Street Festival and it is being held in conjunction with dozens of other rallies and marches calling for the end of marijuana prohibition in cities throughout the world. Source: Houston Chronicle (TX) Author: Thom MarshallPublished: May 1, 2001Copyright: 2001 Houston Chronicle Contact: viewpoints Website: Drug Policy Forum of Texas A Space Odyssey Marijuana March News McWilliam's Memorial Page
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Comment #2 posted by lookinside on May 05, 2001 at 10:06:37 PT:
well said...
very well said kap...
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on May 02, 2001 at 03:55:38 PT:
It's so simple; TELL THE BLOODY TRUTH!
There's something I've never understood: how is it that some parents can have such short memories about their own childhood days? About how "No!" was a baldfaced often surmounted? Which leads to the very behavior that the parents, themselves, often engaged in when they were younger.Kids think. They reason. All too often, a parent will confuse a lack of experience with insufficient intelligence. And make a serious mistake.Mine didn't. They realized that experimentation with alcohol and nicotine and other drugs was inevitable, so that sat us down when the time was right and told us up front what the prices were to be paid by 'indulging'. And made an impression on me that has lasted my whole life.Because I was given the facts, as a teenager I made a conscious decision not to use alcohol or nicotine.People, your kids are waiting. They are waiting to see if you will insult their intelligence. Do so, and you've driven a wedge that much deeper between you and them. Be honest with them, let them know how much faith you have in their smarts to realize this is the 'straight skinny' as my old man used to say, and you'll have their trust.Lie to them as Barry wants you to...and you've lost them.
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