A conversation with my teenage daughter about marijuana

I was discussing the whole issue of legalizing drugs with my 15-year-old daughter the other day, and I asked her: “if you could buy joints on aisle C of Walgreen’s, would more teenagers smoke pot or fewer?”

Her answer: “almost nobody would smoke pot if you could get it at Walgreen’s. It wouldn’t be cool anymore.”

This is obviously not a scientific question, nor a scientific answer, but I tend to agree with her. I remember what it was like to be a teenager, and the key issue was doing what was cool. It is cool to sneak away from the high school campus and smoke pot. It is not cool to go to Walgreen’s and buy something that anybody else can buy.

California voted down completely legalizing Marijuana last November, so the country is not anywhere near the time when you will be able to buy joints at Walgreen’s. But medical marijuana in various states makes pot much more available.

By the way, my daughter says she has never smoked pot, and I believe her. But most of her friends have, she says.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

32 thoughts on “A conversation with my teenage daughter about marijuana

  1. congrats!

    Be proud. I don’t think there’s a lot of parents that make it through the teen years without their kids trying ‘stuff’.

    I’ve been fortunate. My daughter is 17 and hasn’t touched anything. I figure, if she waits until she’s out of the house to experiment, I’m OK. As long as she doesn’t tell me about it.

  2. This is really a post for me. First of all I was in a school where I was the only Foster kid, (It was a really small town in upstate NY, so, I’m not in the least bit exaggerating when I say I was the only FK) I was looked at as the bad kid precisely because I was in foster kid, even though I did nothing. Alot of my class mates experimented with drugs, I never did. I wasn’t surprised when a I found out a few years ago that one of the more ,popular good kids,” was charged with possession and intent to distribute. I think alot of parents need a wake up call when it comes to this issue because they always tend to think well, my kids are into sports, etc, they aren’t going to try anything. And that is usually the furthest from the truth because when I was in high school it was all the jocks who were throwing the parties.

  3. Hm. That you can buy it at the store hasn’t stopped the tobacco smokers in the least. I think it won’t matter one bit if it can be bought at a standard corner store. The people who want it will buy it. A lot lot lot lot of people want it.

    Saith someone who lives next door to a legal grow operation. And the other day, as I drove through Denver on the way to the Temple, saw dispensaries four-and-more thick per block.

  4. I kinda agree with Coffinberry: smoking pot would still be a lot of fun, whether legal or not = kids would still smoke it. Of course, there’s no way that you’d be able to buy it at Walgreen’s if you’re underage, so it would still be illegal for teens.

    I’d vote wholeheartedly for legalizing private marijuana; i.e., you can smoke it as long as no one can see you or smell you. I already can’t stand going to the park and choking on second-hand tobacco smoke; no way I want to add weed to the mix.

  5. Can we smoke it if it’s legal? Or is it still against the Word of Wisdom? Would love to try it out before the GAs come out against it.

  6. It is not cool to go to Walgreen’s and buy something that anybody else can buy.

    That’s why the cool kids would steal it.

  7. “Hard drugs, wrongful use of prescription drugs, alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco products—such as cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco—destroy your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Tobacco can enslave you, weaken your lungs, and shorten your life.”

    From For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Nothing in there about marijuana (unless you consider marijuana a hard drug, which I imagine most educated people don’t). Still, I think there’s a general understanding that marijuana is against the Word of Wisdom, even in places where it is legal. Anyone know of anything more specific? Maybe members in the Netherlands (where marijuana is legal) have specific instructions against marijuana use.

  8. Acts of violence are done every day becaus marijuana is illegal. From police arresting people and throwing them in jail to dealers fighting each other over money and so forth. They made alcohol illegal and all sorts of gangstas came out of it. Think what violence could diminish if

  9. On the mission we had a flip chart with the weirs of wisdom donts. One said illegal drugs. That’s interesting that the EFY handbook does not specify that. I’m not sure what amsterdam members are taught regarding pot, but im sure its not allowed. Here is another question. If a person is taking marijuana legally for medicinal purposes, should they be allowed to go to the temple? What if they are high at the time they go?

  10. I support the legalization of mj, but it would almost certainly still be controlled like cigarettes and alcohol, so the argument about it thus being uncool doesn’t actually work. (And I feel bad about saying that, like I’m mercilessly picking on a kid, so… sorry!)

  11. The over 21 college crowd at my top-10 school certaintly hasn’t stopped drinking just because it’s now legal. Puerile arguments do tend to get puerile results.

  12. “…at my top-10 school…”

    I’m just curious: what was the value of adding the “top-10″ descriptor? What would have been misunderstood had the sentence simply read, “at my school…”? What am I missing?

  13. When has legality or illegality ever had a thing to do with the Word of Wisdom, Nate?

    When we allowed prohibition to end.

    Oh, you meant the other direction. Sorry.

  14. One or two sessions of experimenting with marihuana is probably not going to do much damage. Since that is what many people do it is widely thought to be harmless.

    Marihuana is at least as compromising to automobile drives as alcohol. Traffic fatalities are the most common cause of death from about age 1 to over 50. Look at all the cigarette butts that line our roadways and ask yourself if you want that many more drivers high on pot?

    Marihuana is at least as carcinogenic as tobacco. Just what we need another epidemic of heart disease, lung cancer and a dozen other malignancies. Because it is illegal dealers can get away with selling weak pot that has only low levels of active ingredients. In places where it is legal the market forces drive increases in the portion of of these dangerous substances and with it the more toxic effects become more common. Crime and psychiatric hospitalizations increase.

    If you have ever worked on a production line with chronic potheads you can easily see the result. They can’t keep up, they can’t learn new skills quickly, they can’t innovate or solve new problems and they really don’t care about anything. Reminds me of the old-time frontal lobotomy.

    Marihuana is the most common gateway drug. It is the stepping stone to the use of other dangerous drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, LSD, etc.

    The use of marihuana should be discouraged in every way possible.

  15. Agreed, but not to the point where we are crowding our jails and excessively spending taxpayer money trying to stop people from doing it.

  16. I totally agree that MJ is a dangerous drug. So is alcohol. We learned during Prohibition that the resources spent on enforcing the law are higher than the societal cost of allowing for legalization. It is interesting to point out that MJ, cocaine and many other drugs were legal a century ago.

  17. @Michael, 20: you make a number of claims, but I wonder if you have any sources to back any of them up. For example, the claim that “Marihuana (sic) is at least as carcinogenic as tobacco.”

  18. Teach them correct principles and let people govern themselves. That was Joseph Smiths philosophy and I whole heartedly agree with it. I wish we as a culture took this more to heart.
    But we can change the norm! It begins with us daring to taking responsibility for ourselves and encouraging others to do so. To change the fruits, you gotta change the roots.

  19. I have to agree, that this is one of the least convincing arguments for legalizing marijuana. High School kids were in no way deterred from drinking beer because you could buy it at the grocery store. Can you even begin to imagine the commercials that would be inspired? I have absolutely no doubt that the number of teenagers who would experiment would go up–even among those blogging here there is some question of whether it would violate the word of wisdom.

    Certainly there are strong arguments for treating drug related crime in a more effective manner. The current system is not effective in reducing recidivism and is costing far more than the substantial prison expenses. The human capital is not measured and the damage to families is devastating.

    My solution, no more jail time…instead a quick public caning would provide meaningful deterrence. I’m kidding, maybe a state controlled smokehouse where citizens could partake in a controlled environment and the profits would reduce the deficit. Kidding again. I don’t know the solution, but I know we can do better. Maybe a little out-side-the-box thinking holds the solution.

  20. Reply to Brian J:

    If you search “cancer” and “marihuana” in PubMed you will immediately find over 200 articles in the medical literature. Some describe the use of pot to treat cancer or the pain associated with it. Many others do describe it as a carcinogen. The medical community is all over the board right now because people don’t smoke that much pot. It is difficult to find people who smoke only pot and not tobacco. So Brian is right to call me on the scientific basis of my claims. To a degree.

    If you think about plant physiology you realize that most plants have a similar biochemistry except that a few plants produce a few exotic chemicals. Burning these biochemicals in plants creates hundreds of substances that damage DNA and this is what causes the development of malignancies. It is not the burning of the exotic chemicals in tobacco (like nicotine) that causes cancer but the common ones found in most plants. The nicotine in tobacco is addictive and drives habitual smoking. Is it necessary that we have to find 400 specific carcinogenic substances in every species of plant, as we have in tobacco, before smoking that species is considered dangerous? Would not the prudent course be to assume that if smoking tobacco is dangerous, smoking other plants more likely than not is also dangerous by similar mechanisms?

    I have heard that it usually takes about 20 to 30 “pack-years” of tobacco smoking to see statistically a noticeable increase in cancer. One “pack-year” is smoking a 20 cigarette pack a day for a year. This adds up to 150,000-300,000+ cigarettes. When tobacco was expensive over 100 years ago, few could afford to smoke that much and lung cancer was rare. The invention of cheap cigarettes and the free distribution of them to soldiers in two world wars was directly related to the jump in lung cancer from near zero to the most common malignancy 20-30 years later. Tobacco is blamed for even more deaths due to heart disease, but this condition has many other risk factors. Do we want to repeat this sorry chapter of history with marihuana?

    I think the burden of proof is on the advocates of marihuana to find a large enough cohort of pot smokers who have consumed over 300,000 joints over 30 years and show no increase in lung cancer, heart disease, etc. Even then the 50% chance that the dose of pot needed to cause lung cancer might be somewhat higher instead of lower than the dose of tobacco has not been excluded.

    As for how to stop the behavior: Americans babble about how prisons and jails don’t change criminal behavior. However, it is my understanding that the Soviets were successful in changing behavior with their criminal system of Gulags. I think the root of this problem is in the misinterpretation of the idea of cruel and unusual punishment. We don’t need more jails, but “better’ jails. Better in the sense of scaring criminals straight preferably before they commit crimes, not after. When young thugs masquerading as musicians sneak into jail and record rap songs glorifying incarceration, do you think we might have a problem with a lax penal system?

  21. Mike, I know you are responding to BrianJ, but I would like to add my voice to yours in saying that marijuana is a horrible drug. I grew up in a hippie community in the 1970s, and I have know many, many people whose lives were ruined by pot and other drugs. I fervently urge all people not to smoke pot and not to take other drugs. This also applies, by the way, to diet pills, anti-depressants and other mood-altering substances.

    The problem is that you don’t change behavior through force without diminishing personal liberty. The drug war simply is not working, and calling for more of the same is what Einstein called insanity. Personally, I think we ought to seriously considering legalizing pot (selling it Walgreen’s) and see what happens. Does drug use go down? Do drug-related killing go down? Does border violence go down? Do teens smoke less pot or more?

  22. Mike: I use PubMed every day. Thus, my question was not “where can I go to find info,” it was (and still is) “which reports are your statements based on?”

    “Would not the prudent course be to assume…” You didn’t indicate in #20 that your statements were based only on assumption. Is that what you are implying now? If so, then it is not correct to say that I am only right “to a degree” in “[calling you] on the scientific basis of my claims.” Rather, I am fully right because your claims have no scientific basis.

    To be clear, I don’t care one way or the other about the safety danger of marijuana. I really care about making policies based on real science. But for what it’s worth, my understanding is that admittedly limited studies have shown marijuana to be less carcinogenic than tobacco and less detrimental to driving than ethanol:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19004418
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19340636
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20331551

    Combine that with the fact that marijuana is far, far, far less addictive than either nicotine or ethanol….

    “I think the burden of proof is on the advocates of marihuana…” No, the burden of proof is on whoever makes claims—whatever those claims may be.

  23. Sorry, I have this life on the side that distracts me from the important monitoring of the various eruptions on this blog delaying my responses.

    In my debate with BrianJ on the medical evidence for and against the carcinogenic effects of Marihuana, BrianJ retorts with PubMed links to 3 articles that support his contention that marihuana doesn’t cause cancer as much as tobacco. But he ignores other articles on Pub Med that support that is does. So my next move is to:

    A) provide 3 or more links in Pub Med to contradict the above (yawn).
    B) point out the weaknesses and bias in the articles quoted (annoyance)
    C) agree that I am wrong and he is right.

    Neither of the first two above responses will do anything to clarify the issue beyond the fact that I see the scientific evidence supporting me and BrianJ sees it supporting him.
    So I chose C. Sorry for the ruckus.

    Personally, I dislike the federal government which sponsors Pub Med and tend to think of them as a bunch of leftist borderline commie nanny liberals. So I am not naturally inclined to believe anything they say. The National Institute of Health is also publishing information about marihuana with reliable references to the medical literature that must be refuted. “Marijuana smoke contains 50-70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke.” “case-controlled study found no positive associations between marijuana use and …(various)… cancers. … link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unsubstantiated at this time. (www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/marijuana) Since BrianJ has proven to be the better advocate, at least to a degree, I suggest that he correspond with them immediately and convince them of the relative safety of marihuana in comparison to tobacco before they waste more tax dollars scaring innocent youth away from its use.

    BrianJ, since you use Pub Med every day I suspect you might be a physician or Phd. I was wondering why you didn’t trot out the recent AMA position change to study the potential of allowing pot to be used as a prescription drug? Physicians are considering a willingness to allow it to be used under their supervision as a medicine but not recreationally? Why? And this on the heels of a national epidemic of prescription drug overdoses (methadone, oxycodone, etc. (Limbaughs as we call them)) that now threatens to displace automobile accidents as the leading cause of death in adult Americans?

  24. Mike: my point is not to convince you one way or the other. My question in #23 was to see if you had any support for your claims or if they were just your claims.

    In #26, rather than respond by citing sources to support your claims, you challenged me to search PubMed for articles. I took you up on that challenge and cited a few articles—not hand-picked, just the first ones to pop up in my cursory search—and now in #30 you show annoyance that I did exactly as you instructed me. The studies I linked to illustrate that there is good reason for someone who uses PubMed—as you challenged me to do—to doubt the claims you’re making here.

    “Personally, I dislike the federal government which sponsors Pub Med and tend to think of them as a bunch of leftist borderline commie nanny liberals.” Well, you’re the one who told me to look there.

  25. I have a progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disease with no current medical treatment, besides supportive care or palliative measures. I am currently using Rick Simpson Oil (hemp oil, made from cannabis) and it is working very well to control my spasticity and improve appetite. This substance is taken orally, and tastes like pine nuts. After a brief adjustment period, any feeling of being “high” vanishes, and I can engage in normal day to day activities without mental slowing or confusion. I do not drive due to being legally blind due to issues with the muscles which control ability to focus my eyes. I do not know if this drug should be legal or not, but it does have real medical value.
    My oil is made by a trained professional, and tested for THC/CBD ratio, and any potential contaminants such as pesticides and mold.
    If you would like to read a large number of medical studies on cannabis, both posive and negative, there is an excellent medical cannabis resource, oddly named “Granny Storm Crows List”. You may search on it, or find it here…
    https://www.greenpassion.org/index.php?/topic/26942-grannys-mmj-list-january-2011/page__gopid__351490#entry351490
    I hope this this is helpful to you.

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