Pubdate: Fri, 22 Jun 2018
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Calvin White


Seldom a day goes by when financial pages don't highlight new
developments in the marijuana industry.

So, this is who we are today. Former B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake
is now on the corporate board of a major marijuana company. Former
Toronto police chief and current MP Bill Blair is a point man on
marijuana legalization. Former B.C. Solicitor General and West
Vancouver Police Chief Kash Heed is a consultant for marijuana
companies. The list of government and policing honchos who have jumped
on the bandwagon is substantial.

For decades, RCMP officers have visited schools across the country to
conduct sessions of the D.A.R.E. program - the initials stand for drug
abuse resistance education. I don't know how many times I've heard
police officers telling kids of all ages the grave risk of marijuana,
the dreadful gateway drug to the big baddies! Similarly, earnest
school principals have tried to inculcate the same message. Those kids
toking up were considered the school detritus.

Flash forward to now, and seldom a day goes by when financial pages
don't highlight new developments in the marijuana industry, either
mergers, stock issues, technology, hirings, or start-ups. I'm getting
fed up with it, not that any argument, no matter how cogently spelling
out the falseness, will matter one whit. The glee and total buy-in to
this phenomenon is effusive. It's as though the decades of rigid and
self-righteous counter attitudes and behaviour never existed.

This absolute and shameless U-turn driven by the gleam of unending
lucre as the public flock to the delectable range of edible and
smoking variety possibilities is repugnant enough, but the
consequences are in another league.

There is the continuing academic debate over the possible detrimental
health effects of marijuana usage - early inducing of latent
psychosis, negative ramifications to intellectual functioning,
reduction in motivation, etc. - all of which evoke both concurrence
and dissent, yet acknowledgement that more research is still needed.

All of us who work with kids on a regular basis know another deeper
and lived truth. We know marijuana usage is of serious harm to our
young. The scientists can study the physiological results, but we who
daily interact with our young know how their development is altered.
Virtually no kid uses marijuana on any kind of frequent basis unless
it is serving a distinct purpose. They use it in order not to feel
what they would feel if they did not use it. They use it to feel good,
often to escape emotional pain. They use it to fit in and have friends
or a peer group. They use it because they are bored or isolated from
meaningful or stimulating activity. They use it because they are
habituated to its effectiveness.

And now that it's about to be legalized and all the leading adults are
grinning from ear to ear, it's been given an official seal of
approval. Go for it kids. No more need for 4/20 celebrations. Feast
your developing minds, brains, and personalities on delicious gummy
bears and brownies because not only do they not harm your lungs, why
no one will even smell that you are stoned. School will never have
been so much fun!

The problem is that kids, by definition, are in the process of
growing, learning, developing, and changing. All of this is a stage of
discovery and filling out. Problems arise, disappointments or
tragedies happen, struggles emerge, getting along with parents or
peers, navigating stress, uncertainty, self-doubt, building
self-awareness, mistakes are made and consequences felt, first love
relationships start and end, and much else are all the bedrock which
builds them into adults. Kids need to go through these experiences au
natural in order to develop a relationship with their capacity to
cope, with their capacity to withstand, resolve and make sense of
challenges. It's how they learn what they can do. It's where
meaningful confidence comes from. Where resourcefulness and patience
are internalized.

The great power of marijuana is that it so effectively eases
everything. It takes the edge off life. Kids feel better by ingesting
rather than by learning their capability and discovering how full they
are and how that natural trajectory can continue. They react to a
stress by dulling it instead of figuring it out. It adds up to the
same as when a doctor pushes pills every time a patient has a pain
somewhere. With adults, they've already passed through their
growing/learning stage. Kids are virgin to the world and thus they are
cheated of their natural development.

Thus, once again the adult world indulges itself to the detriment of
our kids and their future. Despite every pious word from authorities
uttered about protecting kids or educating them about marijuana risks,
the fact is they don't really care. The kids are on their own.

Calvin White is a veteran high school counsellor and master of
education in counselling psychology, and author of The Secret Life of
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