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Getting the message to parents

In the Ottawa Citizen: Kelly Egan: Pot problem: parents won’t go for legalization

Ordinary people are not going to read academic studies, unravel complex science on addictions, or solve a harm-benefit equation.

They are probably going to ask themselves: Would you buy a bag of weed and give it to your teenager?

The hell you would, Mom and Dad.

One afternoon this week, I sat down with a mother who wanted to quietly scream about the media’s depiction of marijuana as a soft, even helpful drug, that the state should legalize and control.

She has a son, 20. He began using marijuana when he was about 14. It soon turned into daily use, sometimes before school. So school became a problem.

“He just seemed so spaced out all the time,” said his mother, a 50-ish federal public servant. “He became very secretive about where he was going.”

Within a couple of years, he was dealing. Then he was expelled.

He was a good athlete, but gave up sports, gave up his sports friends and soon ran with another crowd. It changed the whole dynamic of the family.

“I would dread coming home at night because I didn’t know who I’d find there.”

Not a completely unfamiliar story. And there is so much going on in there that requires thoughtful analysis, particularly when you learn more about him…

The boy grew up in a middle-class suburb, with many advantages. He was taken to counsellors, psychologists, doctors. He couldn’t seem to stick with a program. His parents have joined support groups and sought help from the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.

The boy has an older brother, who is thriving. It vexes the mother how one could be so focused and the other so lacking in motivation.

The young man suffers from depression.

Is this a story about marijuana abuse or something else entirely? Seems to me that there were a number of issues here and that marijuana may have just been a symptom reliever.

So what’s the conclusion from the author of the article?

And, in a nutshell, that is why state-control of marijuana will probably never happen. Because an ordinary citizen, a garden-variety parent, does not want to be party to the creation of a nation of young pot-heads. Period.

Really? Is that what we learn from this story?

Is prohibition why the older brother didn’t abuse marijuana? How did prohibition help the younger brother? It seems to me that all his problems happened under prohibition. So why is that an argument against legalization?

He dealt marijuana and hung out with that crowd. Would that have happened if marijuana was legal?

Wouldn’t legal marijuana have an age restriction?

It baffles me that people continue to look at the drug problems under prohibition and list them as reasons why legalization would be bad. There’s no evidence that legalization would exacerbate these prohibition-related problems and plenty of evidence that we’d have a better chance of helping people who abuse drugs without the sledge hammer of prohibition.

Every time one of these parents comes forward we need to ask why they support having criminals control the drug market.

How does that help their children?

Car Magnet

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37 comments to Getting the message to parents

  • […] the message to parents Getting the message to parents DrugWarRant / Pete Guither / 11,25,2011 In the Ottawa Citizen: Kelly Egan: Pot problem: parents […]

  • 7-MK16atypicalAntagonist

    Thanks Pete!

    I tried commenting on Egan’s article earlier but failed to log in. Had no trouble just now though.

  • daksya

    It seems to me that all his problems happened under prohibition. So why is that an argument against legalization?

    Seems pretty obvious when viewed from the anti-drug mindset viz. 1)pot must have caused her son’s problems. 2)prohibition must be keeping number of users low, so even though prohibition failed to keep pot out of the hands of her younger son, legalization would put it in the hands of many others.

  • Duncan20903

    When I was a school boy I had quite an extreme case of what they today call Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), or “go fuck yourself asshole” in the vernacular. Except for the pot smoking, the youth described above sounds quite similar to myself in high school. As a matter of fact, my motivation for trying pot the first time was because my parents and other authorities were convinced that I was already doing so, because I “showed all of the symptoms.” People really have a problem differentiating correlation with causation.

    I really think that I would have enjoyed Adderall®. Back then they gave teens like myself Thorazine®. Nasty, nasty stuff.

    If I’m going to do the time anyway, I may as well do the crime. That’s my motto. Keep your eye on the sparrow, because it wants to shit on your head.

  • claygooding

    I have discussed this problem with several parents in the small town I live in,,parents with tales of harm done to their children by marijuana.

    After talking and redirecting their anger at the real culprit,,prohibition,,most have agreed that what they were really the angriest about was what it cost trying to keep their children out of jail.

  • rita

    One thing I hope I never understand is the mentality of parents who would rather see their children in prison than using drugs.

  • Duncan20903

    In Bali, a 14-year-old boy from New South Wales was sentenced to two months behind bars because the Judge was worried that…

    /snip/
    Justice Amser Simanjuntak says he took into account that the boy has already been locked up, so if he was not sentenced to jail time he might have been able sue the Indonesian government for compensation.
    /snip/

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-25/compensation-claim-influenced-bali-judge/3696190

    You just can’t make up fiction that compares to the reality of the drug war. Sued for not putting someone in jail. Well my brain is diligently trying to process the concept, but it keeps getting rejected for some unknown reason.

    Hey wait a second. I heard that tough laws could eliminate all use unapproved inebriates. So why the heck was there someone in Bali that had pot to sell in the first place? They have some of the toughest laws available in Indonesia. Maybe if we really want to get tough on drugs we should start jailing the police who fail to apprehend the culprits. Start putting cops in jail for not getting rid of (some) drugs and we’ll see change real quick, gay-rohn-teeeed.

    • darkcycle

      Can’t have the government liable because he’s innocent, now, can we? He had to go to jail….to protect the integrity of the justice system don’t you see? If he were innocent and accorded his rights, then all would be for naught!

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    There’s no word on why sour corn growers aren’t being targeted, or what the (bleep) a “spectral image” is. At least the Hysterical Rhetoric Committee seems to have quit the nonsense about cannabis being a unique color. Yeah, which unique color? Red? Yellow? Purple? Black? Eggshell? Muave? Flesh?

    They’re looking for contrast for crying out loud. The smart growers who are growing sweet corn colored cannabis aren’t going to get caught.

    ESA satellite to search for marijuana plantations

    Friday 25 November 2011

    The European Space Agency ESA and the police are joining forces to spot marijuana plantations hidden in sweet corn fields in Limburg, the Telegraaf reports on Friday.

    The experiment is due to begin in early 2012.

    Using high-resolution satellite imagery, researchers can now read a ‘spectral signature’ from a marijuana plant and distinguish it from other crops.

    The technique has been used with success in Canada since 2007, a spokesman for Venlo town council told the paper.
    /snip/

    http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/11/esa_satellite_to_search_for_ma.php

    For the story on the Canadian “success” as well as a bonus article about a French duck farmer fined for feeding birds cannabis to rid them of worms:

    “Rouyer admitted smoking some of the drug himself, but insisted most of it was given to his 150 ducks for medicinal purposes. He said ‘There’s no better worming substance for them, a specialist advised me to do it.’

    Jean Piot, the farmer’s lawyer, said: ‘This is for real, not one (duck) has worms and they’re all in excellent health.’ ”

    http://cannazine.co.uk/cannabis-news/canada/satellite-imagery-may-spot-pot.html

    It’s time to shut down the blog Pete. Now we’ve heard everything.

  • darkcycle

    Your ability to express surprise in the face of all that we’ve been seeing for the last seventy years is refreshing. That’s why I like you.

  • Matthew Meyer

    Yes, I like daksya’s answer.

    It is amazing how well “pot” works as a symbol of moral turpitude. Even today, and even for many who consume it.

    It’s like Woody Allen is supposed to have said in response to the question, “Is sex dirty?”

    “Only if it’s done right.”

    Many of the people I know who are casual and occasional smokers hide their consumption from kids, parents, certain relatives, certain friends…

    It is enough to make me think many haven’t even formulated the desire to come out of the closet about their cannabis use. Just not on the table.

    I think it’s incumbent on those of us who would understand the drug war’s cultural roots to grasp cannabis’s history as a symbol of subaltern resistance (or at least perseverance).

    Beat and hippie cannabis consumption bore a relationship to older uses of the herb in jazz and other racialized subcultures, even as it completely transformed the way it was perceived by mainstream America.

    Contemporary prohibitionist discourse is full of signposts that point to this history. How could people who know so little about cannabis care so much about it otherwise?

    Some of the imagery that comes out of Reefer Madness online commentary around the Redding, CA area seems to recall the fears, satirized in Dr. Strangelove, of Communists sapping our vital fluids. Dispensaries and 215 patients are translated into drains on the rest of us, getting welfare while they sit on their butts and reap illicit profits from their cannabis plantations.

    A lot of our attempts to counter prohibitionist discourse rely on using science to make claims on truth about cannabis. And of course we’re right.

    But just the same, the false claims do not stop, and even when countered in debates they probably resonate with some.

    I think that’s because many of our opponents–and here I mean not so much ideologues but voters who are swayed by them–just know deep inside that cannabis is morally wrong.

    Sometimes, the best thing is to call a spade a spade: You don’t like cannabis because you think it’s morally wrong. I don’t think that, and that’s why we disagree.

    What is really needed is a few more of us who are willing to stand up and say that. Thank goodness there are more and more every day. It reminds me of what Thoreau said of slavery:

    “I know this well, that if one thousand, if one hundred, if ten men whom I could name — if ten honest men only — ay, if one HONEST man, in this State of Massachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, were actually to withdraw from this copartnership, and be locked up in the county jail therefor, it would be the abolition of slavery in America.”

    • darkcycle

      Well stated.

    • Peter

      thanks for that matthew. istudied post colonial lit in grad school and am familiar with the subaltern concept as it applies to indian and African subject peoples under colonial rule. i had never thoight about it in terms of the resistance of a powerless class of cannabis users in the west in the 60s and later. it also ties in with the resistance of the ows movement. drugwarrant as the empire writes back?

  • Nunavut Tripper

    “He just seemed so spaced out all the time,” said his mother, a 50-ish federal public servant. “He became very secretive about where he was going.”

    Well that explains a lot…concerned Mom is working for the
    Federal Nazi’s in Ottawa.( brainwash alert) If marijuana is the cause of her one son’s depression why wasn’t her other son poisoned by the killer weed.

    • darkcycle

      N.T., it’s the process of individualtion. Different kids will individuate in different ways, but there is at some point a driving NEED to begin to have a life outside of parental influence. EVERY healthy child does it, and every unhealthy kid tries. The rub comes because some kids choose types of independent behavior the parents can’t cope with or find abberant.
      Some adolescents are content to merely have areas of interest that they choose not to share with parents. Other kid’s needs to individuate will drive them to deliberate defiance of parental authority. Much depends on how independent the young person was as a child, and much depends on how emotionally mature they are when this drive hits. Controlling parents will get along fine with the former, well adjusted, independent teen, but find themselves completely at loggerheads with the later example. And it is the latter example that needs the most latitude for experimentation. This is often the case where there’s a “good” teen and a “bad” teen in one household, from my experience.

  • Nunavut Tripper

    “I would dread coming home at night because I didn’t know who I’d find there.”

    Sounds pretty normal for any teenager to bring friends home. None of our five kids used cannabis to any degree when they were teenagers but one time brought some drunk ones home and they did do some damage.
    As adults they are all responsible cannabis users and we’re proud of each one as they are all successful to one degree or another and are not a burden to their retired parents
    who just want to enjoy life in our autumn years.
    I just hope the Harper hypocrites leave our happy taxpaying family alone.

  • kaptinemo

    I don’t know about you all, but I am sick and tired of the old argument that an adult must eat pablum because the baby can’t eat steak.

    Some people, for whatever reason, have self-control problems. They can’t seem to regulate their own behavior. Of course, there are usually underlying reasons for that, WRT to each individual case, but the blanket answer of prohibitionism is to knee-jerk reflexively ban, ban, ban anything that might be perceived as being causative of the behavior, when in fact usage of the banned substance may be attempts to ameliorate serious basal psychological problems.

    It becomes even worse when the culture at-large has a predisposition against the kind of introspection that would reveal what amounts to a flaw, not only in the methods of upbringing, but also within society itself.

    Multiply that situation several scores of thousands, or even several hundred million times, and you have a culture in severe denial about critical issues that affect the social health of that culture. Vast amounts of resources may be committed by that culture in pursuit of goals that are not only impossible to achieve, but in the attempt to do so, causes much more damage than the ‘problem’ which, using rational analysis, never really was one until that ‘problem’ was created in the process of eliminating it.

    So, while I might commiserate about the fate of people like the young man described in the article, I must also be mindful that when the ‘cure is worse than the disease’, as it is with the DrugWar, those who do not suffer from his malady should not be made to suffer as well because they don’t. They don’t need or want the ‘pablum’ of prohibition rammed down their throats because people like that young man cannot eat the ‘steak’ of adulthood. And it’s long past time that this overly parochial society made that realization…lest we all choke on watered-down, tasteless, strained-to-invisibility freedom mixed with thick, raw tyranny.

    • Moo.com

      Daisy agrees with the Kaptin!

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      Some people wash their hands 100 times a day, and will have a conniption fit if they stray too far from an available lavatory. I haven’t heard any say that hand washing is “addictive” or that lavatories should be banned because of this. Some hand washers are even known to neglect and/or abuse their children even going so far as forcing them to wash their hands even though they’re surgery ready as far as being clean is concerned.

    • darkcycle

      Adolescent drug use and childhood trauma go hand in hand. Kids will use drugs as a mask to cover social fears and as a way of acting out; defiance of authority. Take away the drugs and those kids will find a car to steal, a house to trash or act out sexually. The point is their needs are not being met, and this is both the scream for help and the symptom that should point to a treatment of some sort. I do not believe there are bad kids. Just kids who’ve been a victim at some time and whose needs were subsequently neglected. I’ve seen some kids go down, and I’ve seen some kids get an amazing change accomplished with next to no support.

  • strayan

    “Claim B provides parents of addicts a guarantee that the blame for an offspring’s addiction will not be directed at themselves. I saw this first hand during the years that I worked as a family therapist with families of heroin addicts. It was painfully apparent how much the mothers and fathers of heroin addicts needed to believe that drugs and bad companions had addicted their child, and that the child’s upbringing had nothing to do with their current disastrous plight…”

    …when in fact it had everything to do with it.

    http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/371/ille/presentation/alexender-e.htm

  • Servetus

    Drugs are the current penultimate scapegoat for all that afflicts society. If a kid doesn’t relate or conform to his crazed and hypocritical society, then it must be the drugs, and so forth.

    It wasn’t always like this. Once it was witches who were allegedly at fault for everything bad that happened in a society. Five centuries ago, the definition of a witch was someone who acted as an intermediary between the devil and individuals the devil intended to harm. It was assumed the devil was so spiritually weak he needed a human host to perform bad deeds, and that no harm to anyone else could occur were it not for the witches’ middle role. The witch belief existed despite the fact enunciated by several theologians at the time that nothing appeared in the Bible to describe a creature anything like that of a witch. The need to scapegoat was greater than the practicality of recognizing witchcraft as a hoax.

    Women who were prosecuted as witches were typically childless widows or single women who had no male protector in their lives to defend them from the usual human predators. If a woman owned property, an accusation of witchcraft could help secure the property for those who might seek to obtain it. As women of that time were the chattel property of men, they were made vulnerable because of their social status as unattached and unprotected women. And of course, we know what happens to vulnerable people, regardless of which society they live in.

  • […] To Legalize Marijuana In State Of MissouriWebster Kirkwood TimesLegalizing MarijuanaNew York TimesGetting the message to parentsDrug WarRantOttawa Citizenall 9 news articles » « Vancouver mayor […]

  • Eridani

    That woman is so stupid. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true. The only reason he is getting weed so easily is because he is buying from dealers, and dealers don’t check for ID. And no, you don’t need to be scientifically inclined in the least to understand how marijuana is not as harmful as a cigarette. People that refuse to acknowledge it are ignorant or dumb, or maybe both.

  • lumpy

    Does the substance really matter?
    Except for the dealing, this could happen with alcohol as well. In my perception most people with a drugproblem have really a social-problem or are naturally depressed by this LOAD OF SHIT that surrounds them every day.
    Im getting depressed by just reading the news.
    Is that because I am ill or because this world is?

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      Not only could be, but probably is. The article doesn’t mention the problem child’s habits concerning the use of drinking alcohol. Consider this:

      1) Parents come home unexpectedly and find junior stumblebum drunk after having raided their liquor cabinet, watching a WWF dance recital on pay-per-view and playing with himself. Parents yell at junior, ground him for a week, confiscate his lube, and in private say, “oh well, boys will be boys. (girls will be girls)”

      2) Parents come home unexpectedly and find junior has been enjoying cannabis and has been working on a postmodern art painting. http://tinyurl.com/is-it-art-or-is-it-memorex They dial 911, have junior taken to the emergency room for a brain scan and a stomach pumping, and then start shopping for a drug rehab facility.

      3) Same as example #2 except they find him high on drinking in addition to enjoying cannabis. They dial 911, have junior taken to the emergency room for a brain scan and a stomach pumping, then start shopping for a drug rehab facility. There’s no concern for the use of drinking alcohol in this case.

      Remember that the rule of thumb is that anything negative, whether real or perceived, that happens anywhere in the general vicinity of cannabis is caused by the cannabis. There’s no need for further investigation.

  • Wayne Phillips

    Kelly Egan’s Marijuana problem: Parents don’t want it legal, Ordinary folks think proposal is a dopey idea (Nov. 25) is not only defective, it is asinine.

    Egan’s anecdotal example of “ordinary people” or “what they would probably think” is condescending, exaggerated, arrogant and insulting. He comes across like a oligarch perched in a lofty tower.

    When Egan says,”They are probably going to ask themselves: Would you buy a bag of weed and give it to your teenager?” is he suggesting some compelling pattern exists that demonstrates parents buy alcohol for their teenager? That, if regulated, parents would do likewise with cannabis? Probably not, but to suggest ordinary people would buy cannabis from a regulated source for their children is offensive at a casual glance.

    Concerns over cannabis dependency are unfounded; the courts and science have already recognized this. Regulation would reduce, not increase, youth access, just as responsible parenting shouldn’t be confused with the lack thereof.

    Kelly Egan’s aspersions are akin to prohibitionists using children as shields each and every time drive-by shootings occur, then bemoaning the harm done to kids; both are the actions of a coward.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      42 States have legal exceptions which allow those under age 21 to use drinking alcohol. Most require the supervision of a parent or guardian.
      http://drinkingage.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002591

      There’s also an exception for medicinal use under Federal law. Go figure that one out.

      The 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act, [23 U.S.C. § 158], requires that States prohibit persons under 21 years of age from purchasing or publicly possessing alcoholic beverages as a condition of receiving State highway funds. A Federal regulation that interprets the Act excludes from the definition of “public possession,” possession “for an established religious purpose; when accompanied by a parent, spouse or legal guardian age 21 or older; for medical purposes when prescribed or administered by a licensed physician, pharmacist, dentist, nurse, hospital or medical institution; in private clubs or establishments; or to the sale, handling, transport, or service in dispensing of any alcoholic beverage pursuant to lawful employment of a person under the age of twenty-one years by a duly licensed manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of alcoholic beverages.” [23 C.F.R. § 1208.3]

      Just for a laugh at our gorvernment’s expense::

      According to the Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS), “Possession and consumption are closely linked because consumption generally requires possession.”

      http://www.alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/

    • darkcycle

      Well said, Wayne. You oughta stick around..fun times on the couch…

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    It’s hard to fault parents who could have children kidnapped by child “protective” services for staying in the closet.

    It’s hard to fault people with good jobs that might go away for them staying in the closet.

    It’s much less difficult to fault people who are afraid of being ostracized, but less difficult doesn’t mean not understandable.

    I’m not sure I’d be so bold about who I am were I not financially secure and independent. Someone who’s self employed really has to fuck up badly to get himself fired. Since my boss enjoys cannabis precisely as much as I do it’s just not an issue.

    I’ve got no children to worry about getting kidnapped.
    ———-

    Can we make a list of the positives about being “out”? I’ll start:

    1. Idiots self identify quickly. You don’t have to spend a lot of time and effort vetting people to figure out if they’re social dimwits. Quite frankly the only people who have attempted to ostracize me were people I didn’t want in my life anyway. Good riddance to bad rubbish indeed.

    2. You get to hear a lot of things from people on the issue that they don’t tell anyone else. So much so that you begin to laugh at the defeatists who say that it will never be legal because you realize that most people do understand that absolute prohibition is an exercise in stupidity perpetrated by malignant narcissists. Why the heck do defeatists bother voicing their opinions anyway? Nobody’s going to listen to them anyway.

    3. It’s a lot easier to find good pot. Shit, I’ll bet I could hop on a plane to the left coast and have a hundred clones in hand less than a couple of hours after deplaning. The biggest obstacle is the getting on a plane part.

    4. ??? OK, you’re turn, someone pick up the ball and run with it, mmm-kay?

    • darkcycle

      Ummmm…Duncan,…no fair on the clone claim.
      P.S. How did you know I was less than two hours from the airport?

  • Wayne Phillips

    Absolute prohibition (of cannabis) is an exercise in (societal) malignancy perpetrated by stupid narcissists, opportunists and the like; it is social engineering gone terribly awry.

    One does not have to look beyond Stephen Harper, most Conservatives or the RCMP to realize either that or, how they’ve permeated that agenda (in Canada).

    The issue of “in or out of the closet”, from my point of view, is a red herring. Kids are neither gullible or (as a rule) stupid and parents who think they can stay “in the closet” (on this) run the very real risk of a rude awakening. It is also one of the surest ways of driving a wedge between parent and child and enforcement is well aware of this, hence D.A.R.E.

    Another common misconception is if you speak out about the irrationality of cannabis prohibition it equates to an admission of usage. Nothing is farther from the truth. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out (one day) that this “concern” was the concoction of some nameless agent provocateur.

    Being “in the closet” won’t prevent drug tests; it only creates a myriad of problems central to being “in the closet”. Why any would think being “in the closet” can even be rationalized, is beyond me.