This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post about a very poor article by Jennifer Johnson in the Pioneer Press: Legalization talk cited in teen pot use spike. In it, Margaret Polovchak, executive director of the Maine Community Youth Assistance Foundation (Chicago suburbs, not the state of Maine), claims that an increase of pot use among high school students has occurred, that it’s the result of talking about medical marijuana in Illinois and that medical marijuana should be opposed for that reason.
We shouldn’t really be surprised by this kind of ignorant talk â€” the MCYAF is a tool of the drug war machine (even their website is paid for by grants from ONDCP and SAMHSA), and we know that those entities have shown little actual interest in the welfare of children.
But Margaret’s statement demonstrates the sickness of the drug war’s interaction with youth. The very notion that we need to reduce or eliminate public discussion about current events (assuming such an absurdity would work) in order to protect children (!) demonstrates that she considers young people to be somewhat akin to hamsters.
And guess what? Young people are smarter than that. You can pretend all you want that if you shield them from discussions about sex they’ll remain blissfully and naturally celibate, but then you’d better be ready to be a grandparent. And you can pretend that if we talked less about medical marijuana then they wouldn’t use marijuana, but if you really want that to work, you’d better raise them in a big cage with a wheel.
So what happens when you treat young people this way? They immediately realize that you’re lying to them. They don’t like it, and they see you as the enemy rather than someone who is there to help. They become suspicious of all attempts to help them and tend to disbelieve even important truths.
Once they realize that they’ve been lied to about marijuana, then they assume that everything else has been a lie (often leading to fatal results). When they aren’t given reality-based education that teaches them the truth, then they are forced to try to discover it on their own, through trial and error, again often with disastrous results.
What people like Margaret Polovchak are doing is destroying the safety net of experiential wisdom for young people that should be provided by the family, the village, society.
Instead, children are treated as though they cannot be trusted with what we know. We turn them into suspects by making them pee into cups, and we send dogs through their schools sniffing their belongings. We lie to them and withhold information that is critical to them and have the gall to wonder why they rebel.
Does that mean we have to roll over and just accept any level of drug use by young people? Of course not. We’ll never be able to stop all of it, but we can control it and reduce the harm of it by regulating drugs, teaching young people the truth about them, and explaining why we want them to wait until a later time to experiment with them.
Now there are other ways that Margaret Polovchak harms children, too. Some of the children at these schools certainly have family members who now, or in the future, could benefit from medical marijuana. Those children are harmed by Polovchak’s efforts, either because their family member is denied valuable medicine or because their family member ends up incarcerated in order to obtain their medicine.
By attempting to reduce the level of public discussion of matters of public policy in general, Margaret harms children because then public policy isn’t getting the proper analysis, and more bad policy ends up as law, harming everyone.
And by supporting prohibition, Margaret Polovchak harms children by being part of a system that fuels violence and voluntarily puts drug regulation in the hands of criminals.
So if your child is ever offered a Margaret Polovchak, be sure to tell them to just say “no.”