Pubdate: Mon, 09 Aug 2004
Source: Naples Daily News (FL)
Copyright: 2004 Naples Daily News.
Author: Bill O'Reilly, Creators Syndicate
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Star Miami Dolphin running back Ricky Williams has walked away from
millions of dollars in part because of marijuana. Williams told the
Miami Herald that he smoked weed constantly and masked his use by
consuming a substance called "Extra Clean." Nevertheless, Williams
failed three drug tests administered by the NFL and finally decided to
retire at age 27, citing his desire to continue smoking pot as one of
the reasons.

According to the Health and Human Services Department, less than 2
percent of American youths had ever used marijuana back in the year
1962. Forty years later, that percentage had increased to an
astounding 54 percent. The simple question is: What dynamic has
changed in America to account for the drastic increase in the
consumption of marijuana?

The watershed event, of course, was the rise of the anti-war movement
in the late 1960s. Smoking pot became the appetizer for the Vietnam
protest entree. The rock world immediately got involved, and
intoxication celebration was underway.

Since that time, marijuana use, especially among young people, has
steadily increased and now about 20 percent of high school seniors
smoke pot on a regular basis.

Interestingly, up until 1992, marijuana use was far more common among
whites than minority Americans, according to a study by the National
Institutes of Health. But in the nineties, pot consumption by
African-American men and women between the ages of 18 and 29 increased
224 percent!

The 10 years between '92 and 2002 coincided with the rise of the rap
industry. Icons such as Snoop Dogg and Ludacris consistently glorified
marijuana, and I believe their message fell on willing ears. A
generation of Americans kids, of all colors, were (and continue to be)
pounded by rhythms and lyrics encouraging a libertine lifestyle with a
heavy emphasis on drug use and exploitative sex. How could this not
take a toll?

Anyway, Ricky Williams and millions of other young Americans love
their pot and are willing to make great sacrifices to consume it.
Think about all the good Williams could have done with the money he
was earning. Life in the National Football League is no easy venture,
but athletic ability is a gift that should not be discarded lightly.

The bigger picture is that marijuana use is now largely accepted by
American society, even in the case of young people. This is a disaster
for kids. Awash in drugs and alcohol, we are now a culture where
children are exposed to intoxicating agents practically from the time
they reach the age of reason (7 years). And any child who becomes
involved with mind-altering substances loses their childhood
instantly. They are never the same.

But how often do you hear the media speak out against substance
consumption? It is winked at, excused, and even tacitly encouraged by
many pundits and activists. That is the great change since 1962.
Getting high is no longer even an issue in many quarters - it is
standard procedure.

Ricky Williams should be the poster boy for the marijuana debate. The
man obviously is seeking emotional comfort, and the price of that
comfort is somewhere around $15 million dollars. You can't get much
higher than that.

Veteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The
O'Reilly Factor" and author of the book "Who's Looking Out For You?"
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