HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Just Pot Meeting Stirs Up Controversy
Pubdate: Fri, 31 Dec 2004
Source: Campbell River Mirror (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Campbell River Mirror
Author: Amy van Elk
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


I recently attended a meeting called "Just Pot" which was open to the
public and took place at the community centre.

The John Howard Society had been planning this meeting and had asked
me if I was interested in attending. Out of curiosity, I went with a
friend whom I had also known through the John Howard Society.

A wide range of people showed up, such as teachers, parents, teens,
pro-pot users and people that just wanted to learn more. After a brief
introduction and a video presentation made by a Carihi student, it
seemed like everybody had something to say. The meeting all of a
sudden became this passionate debate and the emotion of the crowd was
unbelievable as everyone got worked up in their own opinions.

I was surprised to hear what the pro-pot members of the meeting had to
say. A couple of teen boys claimed to drive better and a few others
claimed to be smarter and do better in school while under the
influence of pot. Both of these opinions, however, have been proven

First of all, driving better while under the influence of pot is
impossible since it slows down a person's motor skills, significantly
affects visual perception and can cause hallucinations. As for
becoming smarter while on the drug, it is also not possible since pot
decreases motivation and affects short term memory.

A teacher at a middle school commented that while alcohol and nicotine
are also powerful drugs, neither of them caused her students to be
unable to learn. She went on to say that while some students went out
and smoked cigarettes at recess and lunch, the vast majority came back
to class to learn.

However, the students that smoked pot at recess or lunch either didn't
come back to school, or if they did, were incapable of learning.
Another pro-pot user stood up to support the issue of medicinal
marijuana and admitted to selling pot. She was very opinionated on the
subject and insisted it was safe and not harmful which only stirred up
more controversy.

One man in the crowd admitted to being infected with AIDS and had been
using medicinal marijuana to help him ease the pain. This brought up
argument about how street marijuana and medicinal marijuana are
different and have different levels of THC. People talked about how
the marijuana you can buy on the streets is much more potent than
medicinal marijuana, but even growers and experts of medicinal
marijuana don't recommend that it should be used.

Even though marijuana is known to help ease pain, it's not necessarily
the best route to take since it weakens the immune system and can
cause more problems.

Many other questions came up during the meeting like whether or not
marijuana was a gateway drug, how big a role peer pressure can play to
get a teen to start pot and if marijuana is addictive. People also
started addressing the real side effects and dangers of pot. The issue
of heart palpitations came up more than once. The same woman who
admitted to selling pot claimed to have suffered from alarming heart
palpitations while being "high."

She also said it was due to her weight since pot itself wasn't
dangerous. That's when I spoke and told her it was not because of her
weight and that I had known other people that have had the same
reaction as her and have even ended up in the hospital because of it,
along with long term effects such as panic attacks, anxiety and
sickness and how the physical consequences of pot were very real.

Throughout the rest of the meeting, more and more different issues and
opinions came up on this subject but people became frustrated about
not being able to learn as much as they wanted to, due to
interruptions by the four politically-motivated individuals in which
their whole purpose of coming to that meeting was to convince everyone
that pot is OK, safe, natural, healthy and not harmful and it was
almost like we had the problem since we didn't do it.

When introduced to new information on other drug topics, the issue of
pot was brought back on many occasions, making the coordinates work a
little harder to stay on task and felt like the meeting was hijacked
by a one issue program on pot which was meant to include other drugs
as well.

Along with a number of other drug topics that ended up getting left
out of the meeting, was also the talk of parental involvement in the
prevention of drugs and how important this is. It is a known fact that
parents have a very big influence on their kids. Thus, kids who learn
about the risks of drugs from their parents or caregivers are less
likely to use drugs than kids who do not.

When the meeting was over, people continued to argue with one another,
individually, people on both sides of the debate were determined to
convert the opposing person to their side.

I got caught up in one of the arguments with the women that sold pot
as she said other appalling and offensive statements.

She, along with some other pro-pot users continually tried to argue
their point against mine and seemed to look down on me as if my
opinion wasn't relevant because I was young.

Some people, including myself left the meeting angry because of these
arguments. The bottom line is, pot CAN hurt you, maybe just not right

No matter which side of the debate you were on, at the end of the
meeting, it was clearly proven that pot wasn't "Just Pot."

Amy van Elk
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