Opinion

Best of the Blogs | Legalize pot ... to make it harder for teens to get

Ten years ago it was easier to find pot in high school than it was to find beer.

And I don’t think things have changed.

Don’t get me wrong. My teenage days were filled with skateboard videos and Advanced Placement English tests, not bong rips and 40-ouncers.

But I was around drinking and drugs. I went to parties. And I distinctly remember my friends who did smoke or drink discussing how much easier it was to find a bowl than a beer.

I bring this up because of an article I read last week in the New York Times. According to “A Push to Legalize Marijuana Like Alcohol,” backers of a bill in Colorado are trying to legalize the possession of marijuana in small amounts. They want the state to regulate it, put strict laws on its consumption and sell it only to those 21 and up.

An advocate for the Colorado bill quoted in the article said the goal of legalization isn’t easier access to marijuana, but “to make our communities safer by regulating this substance, taking it out of the underground market, controlling it and better keeping it away from young people.”

A measure similar  to Colorado’s bill is expected to appear on ballots here in Washington State this fall.

I like this plan. And not because I personally want to go down to the local grocery store and be able to buy a bag. I don’t smoke. I’ve never liked it. I’m in the “tried it in college and it made me paranoid” category.

Yet I do want to see pot legalized.

First, true to my libertarian leanings, I think responsible adults should be able to smoke if that’s what they desire. If John Q. works 40 hours a week, pays his mortgage, takes care of his children and wants to light up a J on Saturday night and eat a gallon of ice cream while watching “Super Bad,” more power to him.

More than this, though, pot should be legal because I think a tightly regulated system would make it harder for teenagers to buy weed. Kids smoking before they are grown adults, not giving their minds proper time to develop in a sober frame, is extremely damaging. I saw enough friends in high school “burn out” to know this for sure.

Tight regulation would make it harder for kids to get pot, and make it harder for them to “burn out” in high school.

Of course, my claims are not necessarily backed up in hard numbers. They’re just from memories of high school days. Memories that remain clear.

It’s also clear that if kids want something bad enough, they can find it. That’s why, above all, it’s important for parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of drug use at an early age.

This talk is probably best done before parents light up that aforementioned joint.

 

— Brett Cihon is a reporter and resident Seinfeld look-alike at the Port Orchard Independent

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