Support the troops, even when it’s inconvenient

I proudly served my country, and despite my grave dissatisfaction with the recent expressions of U.S. power, I feel my debt to U.S. servicemen and women in a profound way.   I know I’m far from alone in this sentiment, and even though we’ve become accustomed to using them as props, I’m happy knowing that respect for servicemen and women has become more of a default feeling than in the recent past.

Service comes with costs, as everyone knows.   I was fortunate.  I came out of my own service with almost no lasting problems and a whole host of personal improvements.  I know that I’m a better person than I was before my service, with a wider perspective on the world, a greater understanding of the inherent similarities of people everywhere, and a firm understanding of the tremendous privilege of being an American in a world rife with poverty, disease, oppression, commercial exploitation and hostility.

That’s not always the case, though.  In contrast to my relatively-benevolent experience, my partner came out of her service a little worse for wear.  She suffers from some permanent nerve damage, carries some lingering symptoms from a fairly intransigent infection and has a pretty typical case of PTSD.  I try to be understanding, but that’s not entirely in my nature so I fail from time to time.  Still I try to support her in her treatment and recovery, wherever that takes her and whatever is involved; part of that is helping her to improve her mental state.  I’m not the biggest fan of psychotheraphy, but I know that can be part of the solution for many people who have suffered as she has.  I have to admit, though, that I was a little shocked when my partner returned from a visit to a therapist with an unoffiial recommendation to treat her PTSD symptoms with cannabis.

Actually, that version of events messes with the narrative time-frame a little.   Like many who suffer from PTSD, she had been self-medicating for her symptoms even before she understood what was causing her problems and even before she started to see someone specifically for the PTSD.  True, she started out with a legal prescription to use cannabis to treat her debilitating migraines – and unlike all of the horrific prescription medications she’d tried before, the cannabis actually stopped her headaches, and without the raft of side-effects from the commercial-pharmaceutical options – but she soon found that the same medicine worked better at calming what she hadn’t learned to call her symptoms from the PTSD.

I’ve never been supportive of self-medicating.  In fact, I’m not a fan of medication in general.  I fear my pharmaceutical overlords much more than I trust them, and I’m not convinced that doctors can be trusted to shake off the enormous influence exercised upon them by those overlords.  That’s just part of the problem, though.  We’ve become a nation of pussies in many ways, and part of that is an overblown fear of pain.  Pain, in our current cultural climate, is something not to be tolerated.  I can’t count the number of friends and relatives who mindlessly swallow everything their doctors prescirbe them in the aftermath of even minor procedures and operations, without questioning how much of that crap is actually necessary and how much is simply convenient.    I don’t think I have a particularly high tolerance for pain, but I pride myself on not being a complete pussy, and I haven’t felt the need to deaden my senses after the last two surgical procedures I’ve had with anything more than aspirin or tylenol.  I have a stack of unused prescriptions for the harder stuff that I found to be completely unnecessary.  That’s not to say that powerful painkillers aren’t entirely appropriate in some circumstance and for some people; I’m just pointing out that pain meds are over-prescribed and over-used by a population that has stopped even considering the “whethers” and “whys” before automatically popping whatever pill comes their way.   Drugs are bad, ‘mkay?  Maybe cancer patients need Oxycontin, but do you really need smack to deal with an ingrown toenail?  I think not.  Maybe that’s just me.  Like I said earlier, being understanding is not entirely in my nature.

Anyway, as a result of my knee-jerk failure to empathize, I’d no doubt been harassing my partner about her increasing tendency to self-medicate.  So much so, that I’d convinced her to raise the issue with her therapist.  The therapist’s response?  “Good for you – in fact, you keep smoking your weed if that helps.”  I was shocked, if not exactly mollified.  It turns out, though, that she’d stumbled upon a fairly common solution, supported by some surprising cheerleaders, as the following article makes clear:

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it is developing a national policy, and the head of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access believes a VA policy allowing medical marijuana “is inevitable.”

“We’re all on the same side,” said Michael Krawitz of Virginia. “My goal is a good outcome for the veteran, and that’s their goal…The irony in this … is it’s a common thing for veterans to tell me, ‘The VA is telling me if I just stay away from medical marijuana, we’ll give you all the pills you want, morphine, whatever,'” he said.

And it’s not just the hippie press reporting the efficacy of cannabis in treating PTSD.  Dr. Irit Akirav and research student Eti Ganon-Elazar, working at the Learning and Memory Lab in the University of Haifa’s Department of Psychology recently published a report in The Journal of Neuroscience reporting on the promise of the weed – and nobody knows more about messed-up human brains than the Israelis, so I’m inclined to trust their study.

Anyway, to return to my original point, I’d like to offer yet one more reason to support the decriminalization of cannabis.  More than that, though, I’d like to suggest that we work a little harder to de-stigmatize the use of weed for the treatment of PTSD.  Our recent national adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq have produced the largest population of returning, damaged soldiers since the end of the Vietnam War.  Those men and women served in dubious circumstances, but there’s nothing dubious about their service.   They deserve our support, in whatever way we can offer it.  If cannabis is better at treating the symptoms of the most ubiquitous harm that they’ll suffer as a result of their service, then we owe it to them to work to allow their doctors to prescribe them the best medication for their hurts.  Support our troops – but don’t just do it for yourself, and don’t just do it when its easy.  Give them what they need, rather than what’s convenient.


9 Responses to “Support the troops, even when it’s inconvenient”

  1. June 1, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Excellant piece.

    Welcome home and thanks for serving your country. The same goes for your partner.

    I understand where your partner is – as I have service-connected PTSD.

    One thing that did help was the PTSD program I went to at Ft. Miley. I understand that Palo Alto has a good program too. Both are inhouse programs for about 4-6 weeks. Group theraphy was one component that makes a difference because the sufferer is with others experiencing the same problems. It helps them realize that there problem is not unique.

    I applaud your realization that it isn’t easy for you to deal with your partner’s PTSD. That kind of honesty really helps keep you grounded.

  2. 2 Mr. Nice
    June 2, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Everybody should be a “pussy” regulating pain with medication than be unable to function. Most people who take pain medication do not get hopelessly addicted. It is a quality of life issue.

    People should also be legally able to take mind-numbing substances for recreational purposes. Society’s role should be to help people who accidentally become addicted, not to pass judgment on them as if that ever helps anyone.

    Societal norms would say that someone who is crippled from a car accident should not be judged by the fact that driving a car is statistically dangerous as fuck. It don’t make no sense that drug addicted get treated like a moral issue while most other dumb, non-violent decisions are acceptable.

    • June 2, 2010 at 9:12 pm

      Everybody should be a “pussy” regulating pain with medication than be unable to function.

      Obviously. And when doctors start prescribing oxycontin and other manufactured opiates based upon their patients’ ability to function rather than which pharmaceutical company buys them the coolest stuff, or sends them the hottest reps, I’ll stop calling people pussies for swallowing every pill that comes their way. I’m not talking about people I don’t know. I’ll admit, though – I’m being insensitive to make a point. And sure, it’s probably not entirely the patients’ fault. Maybe you see different doctors than I do, but they don’t ask me about my ability to function before prescribing me WAY more medication than I could possibly need – that’s just become the new normal. The trained professionals in the medical profession should be more responsible about how they prescribe “medicine,” in my opinion.

      Maybe “most people” who take pain meds don’t get hopelessly addicted, but some do, right? What’s the acceptable percentage? Is it okay to overprescribe powerful opiates as a standard practice if only a few hundred thousand people end up with crippling addiction problems? What I’m saying is that it is possible to exercise some discretion when it comes to the types of medications that are prescribed. For example, we might start by encouraging the use of pain meds that aren’t horribly addictive rather than those that are. Seems kinda obvious to me, but then I’m not a doctor, and no one offers me free golfing vacations to push their pills.

      There might be something to what you say about our rights to soak our brains in medication, too. I think you’d be a fool to start taking oxycodone or hydrocodone for the fun of it, but maybe the government is wrong to curtail your right to do what you want. I take no position on that right now. But right now, I also know that we also have the legal rights to be treated like guinea pigs with piggy banks by barely-regulated drug manufacturing corporations who make more money the more we take. You think all of those ads show up on the teevee because they don’t change the way people view their meds? With the ungodly amounts of pharmaceutical marketing that’s been going on for the past decade or so, I question just how much rational decision making is going on at the individual, patient level. When your doctor prescribes pills, you pretty much assume that you should take them, right. And when he or she doesn’t offer enough, your friendly pharmaceutical company is there to encourage you to ask for more. And to ask for them by name. I’m saying there should be some pushback, and as I point out in my post, I’m not the only one. This is just one obvious instance where that pushback would be useful. I’m sure there are others.

      • 4 Mr. Nice
        June 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm

        Maybe “most people” who take pain meds don’t get hopelessly addicted, but some do, right? What’s the acceptable percentage?

        Any percentage. In most cases the actual percentage is below 1%.

        Is it okay to overprescribe powerful opiates as a standard practice if only a few hundred thousand people end up with crippling addiction problems?

        Is it okay to strip doctors of their licenses for adequately treating patients for pain?

        For example, we might start by encouraging the use of pain meds that aren’t horribly addictive rather than those that are.

        I assume you mean “encouraging” as in stripping doctors of their licenses if they do not comply with bureaucratic drug control guidelines.

        I think you’d be a fool to start taking oxycodone or hydrocodone for the fun of it, but maybe the government is wrong to curtail your right to do what you want.

        The government is wrong to curtail our natural rights, yes.

        When your doctor prescribes pills, you pretty much assume that you should take them, right.

        When the mechanic says you need x and y repairs, do you blindly cut a check or do you seek a second opinion?

        I’m saying there should be some pushback, and as I point out in my post, I’m not the only one. This is just one obvious instance where that pushback would be useful. I’m sure there are others.

        I assume you mean “pushback” as in stripping doctors of their license to practice medicine for failing to comply with bureaucratic drug control guidelines.

        There is no pushback or encouragement in drug control, there are only threats of punishment and punishments. The patients lose either way.

        Currently, we have the DEA investigating any doctor who is seen as overprescribing pain killers. The results are patients in dire need of pain killers unable to get them when their doctor loses his/her license to prescribe pain killers. Great, noble, moral cause.

      • June 4, 2010 at 12:00 am

        Assume what you like, but I’m arguing for a loosening of the current government regulation of prescription drug use, along with increased discretion for treating physicians and the implementation of better policies than we currently have, based upon more rational thinking than we’re currently using. It seems hyperbolic to equate my call for more rational drug guidelines with the most extreme act of enforcement. Your argument seems to be with the notion of regulations in principle, and we definitely disagree there.

        I don’t believe that government intrusion into communal or public conduct, per se, is a bad thing, an avoidable thing, or an immutable thing. I don’t believe in natural rights – I believe that rights are culturally determined. Power is exercised in every culture I’ve ever seen or read about, and on balance, I’m a fan of the way modern democratic governments enact moral laws. I like them best when they do so in conjunction with the consent of the population, and I like it even better if that consent is rational. For example, one of my more recent complaints is that my government didn’t adequately curtail the rights of douchebag oil producers from polluting the Gulf of Mexico. I would like more of that sort of curtailing please. Pushback, if you will.

        I don’t know where you’re getting that “below 1%” number when it comes to the abuse of prescription medication, but I’ve known plenty of people who have suffered with that problem, and I’ve seen plenty of research calling attention to the rapid and recent increase in that problem, widely. The opioids that have emerged on the market most recently are particularly troublesome, as they can quickly become physically addictive, they’ve been heavily marketed and and they are widely abused. Dr. Stephen D. Passik writes (in “Issues in Long-term Opioid Therapy: Unmet Needs, Risks, and Solutions,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings July 2009 vol. 84 no. 7, pp. 593-601):

        Prescription opioid abuse is increasing and exacts a high toll on patients, physicians, and society…Escalating prescription drug abuse is associated with higher rates of morbidities and drug-related mortality.

        And if it were simply the case that some small percentage of people prescribed these drugs were subject to overuse and abuse, that would be bad enough; in fact, the problem is more specifically localized, and there’s some troubling collateral damage as well. In “Epidemiological Trends in Abuse and Misuse of Prescription Opioids,” (Journal of Addictive Diseases, Volume 28, Issue 2 April 2009 , pps. 130 – 136) Henry Spillera, Douglas J. Lorenzo, Elise J. Bailey and Richard C. Dart report:

        We compared the annual incidence of total prescription opioid drug cases to annual data from the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Census Bureau by year and by state for unemployment rate, poverty rate, population density, high school graduation rate, and bachelor’s degree proportion using the best least square fit in an evaluation for trends for 2003 to 2006. Two strong positive trends were found between poverty rate, unemployment rate, and prescription opioid drug rates, with prescription opioid drug rates increasing as poverty rate and unemployment rate increased. This trend was consistent over the 4 years of study and strongly influenced by the hydrocodone and methadone rates, with less influence from oxycodone rates.

        So, for some reason, poor people, the unemployed, and those with minimal education are more likely to suffer from problems arising from this particular class of drugs. And, in an earlier report, “The Underrecognized Toll of Prescription Opioid Abuse on Young Children,” (Annals of Emergency Medicine April 2009, Volume 53, Issue 4 , pp. 419-424), J. Elise Bailey, Elizabeth Campagna, and Richard C. Dart report:

        The number of prescriptions filled for an opioid in an area correlated well with exposures in young children in the same area; children have access to household members’ prescription drugs….Conclusion: Young children are exposed to prescription opioids, typically prescribed for other patients, resulting in major health effects and death.

        So, in addition to the observed problems that arise from primary use, there are second-hand problems worth considering, too. (There were lots of studies correlating those, but these are the ones that would be easy to find without the benefit of a university library.) So, getting back to my original point, I think we could use some pushback on the (recent and increasing) liberal use of such troublesome drugs, especially when there are safer alternatives available.

  3. 6 Mr. Nice
    June 8, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I don’t know about lots of studies dude. I’ve read studies talking about how it is just a common assumption that poor people (esp. poor black people) have more problems with drug addiction than say middle class white boys… it’s just not backed by any hard data. The government’s own crackpot drug survey shows no significant statistical difference between drug addiction in a place like East Oakland or somewhere like the Oakland Hills, the only real difference is arrest rates. If anything, the perception that poor folks have more of a problem with illegal drugs or prescription drug abuse is just that, a perception.

    Society has tried what you are talking about: “discouraging” doctors from prescribing powerful pain relief medicine. The major effect of this is not to help anyone with addiction, but to deny people pain medication who genuinely benefit from it. In fact, in the entire history of drug control, total addiction rates are about the same and so-called “problem” drug addiction hasn’t even moved a fraction of a percentage point. If any of this drug control shit really worked, you’d think we’d see some real progress instead of people just taking different drugs at the same rates as usual.

    When the government says drug “use” is up or down, they mean their bullshit last month and last year stats, not chronic use. I looked at just about every illegal and addictive prescription drug in those surveys and the chronic use rate was pegged at the same rate varying only slightly over many years. Meth is the most comical to me. Proponents of meth control say that meth use is down because past month meth use on surveys is down, but really daily meth users as a fraction of the population was exactly the same in every year I looked at. Literally didn’t budge even 0.1%… so why all the fuss?

    No amount of discouragement or pushback is going to do shit. People need to know better and people need accessible treatment for when they do get addicted. Trying to prevent them from taking substances in the first place is a waste of money and an immoral denial of relief to chronic pain patients.

    • June 10, 2010 at 10:32 am

      I’m trying to be respectful and understand your position, but it just makes no sense to me. You imply an opposition between regulation and freedom that’s completely phony, because your freedom is just the freedom to be exploited by gigantic, for-profit drug companies aggressively pushing their products on those without the resources to know that they don’t need them. Why prevent government from acting, but turn a blind eye to the actions of other, more powerful and less well-intentioned agents? You know why Purdue Pharma paid over 700 million dollars in fines and plead guilty to a number of crimes in their marketing of Oxycontin recently? It’s because they deliberately and consistently lied about the dangers of their dangerous pills to unsuspecting doctors and patients; and not to help anyone in pain, but to make sure that more people bought their pills, became addicted to them (because they’re addictive to an unsafe degree) and then kept buying them for as long as they could. You know who was there to catch them? to fine them? to force them to stop doing what was clearly not in the interests of doctors or patients? The government – and not Obama’s supposedly socialist totalitarian government, but Bush’s critically weakened, hamstrung government. The only thing standing between a vulnerable population and the carnivorous forces that want to take them for all they’re worth are government regulators who have no financial interest in fleecing the suckers. That’s why it’s just silly to advocate for the removal of the only protective force that can oppose the truly powerful, antithetical forces in our culture.

      Absent pushback, you don’t get freedom. You get exploitation. That’s the problem with libertarian ideology, broadly. It would be a great idea, just not in the real world that we all inhabit.

      You say you don’t know about studies, that there’s no hard data. Sorry, that’s not just an opinion I disagree with, that’s demonstrably untrue. I just provided you with a couple of studies that do offer what you say doesn’t exist – the hard data. That’s not some bullshit government survey, either. I cited peer-reviewed, scientific studies that appeared in legitimate academic journals. You countered with your recollection of some studies that you didn’t mention. If you’re right, shouldn’t you be able to come up with some supporting evidence showing that you’re right? If not, you should consider the possibility that you might be wrong.

      And just to clarify, that one report that you addressed didn’t say that black people are more prone to drug use, it said that the the numbers that the scientists examined revealed that the poor, the uneducated, and the unemployed are particularly vulnerable to the devastating effects of these drugs. Gee, I wonder why that might be?

      You say there’s a crisis of people not getting enough pain medication. Sorry, it’s those numbers that don’t exist.

      And by the way, I agree that society has tried what I’m talking about. And not just our society, but virtually all modern societies. In fact, they’re doing it right now. There are consistent peaks and valleys when it comes to the introduction of drugs, the proliferation of drugs, the control of drugs. It’s just incorrect to suggest that social pressure has no effect on those trends. Cigarette smoking rises and fall, and not coincidentally, it rises and falls depending upon the pressure brought to bear. When cigarette companies are allowed to market their products to children with cartoon animals, smoking rates go up. When health advocacy organizations combat those misinformation p.r. campaigns, smoking rates drop. Etc., etc., etc. You’d have to be wearing blinders not to see that all around you. Oxycodone was invented a hundred years ago, but it wasn’t a social problem until drug companies began aggressively marketing the drug – that’s where the problem comes from.

  4. 8 humboldtkids
    July 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    This is your oldest post, and I was moved to respond to comment #5. I run all my words through my machine, but this is an intro. I appreciate your acknowledging my vendeda as being valid and possibly counter productive. Such is propaganda. Such is the fighting of fire with fire. If there are undertones in this piece, it is because I think you could benefit from the same consideration when it comes to the promoting of the concepts our dictionary conversation yielded for us both. If there is a chip on you shoulder, good sir, then it is an attachment to the use of a relatively recent development in the medicinal applications of cannabis. Cool.

    I believe it is a natural right to raise your children. Furthermore, I believe it is a culturally agreed upon right. Our society has afforded parents an equal right to raise children and entombed these rights in a document referred to as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act. If you have children and a drug dealer steals one of them and somehow gets them out of the country, this is the authority that works in conjunction with the Hague Convention to return your child to you. Furthermore, child support agencies that are funded by our federal tax dollars are only supported if the UCCJEA has been adopted by the state in question. Needless to say, most states go for it.

    Moms and dads should have an equal right to raise their children. That’s kind of a gimmie. Another culturally agreed upon, natural right is the right of the child to have a relationship with both parents. When you think of the rights of children, it’s easy to think of food, clothing, shelter, and health care, but a relationship with both parents has been determined to be critical to the health and welfare of every American Child. Not just according to law, but according to incarceration statistics, clinical studies, and professional therapists.

    Without some knowledge of the written rules called the UCCJEA (another meaningless cultural norm in SoHum) you may identify the chip on my shoulder, but you will not see the grain or identify the species. We continue to agree on more profound issues. You have recent complaints relating to environmental disasters which I can correlate to this unsightly sliver rammed into my colaarbone. My government doesn’t adequately enforce the rights of children in the Emerald Triangle and, in fact, pays the county to pay the individual to exploit a tax free income and violate federal law.

    It’s not a Humboldt thing, it’s a California thing that works very well in Humboldt. It is this self defeating approach to self governance that is an absolute mockery of the modern democracy you admire and have fought for. This entitlement has come to be the norm in Cali the way over prescribing meds has become the norm in your topic. It is the reason you are in the deep end of the deepest economic hole our country has ever known and I hear nothing but how can the federal government help the seventh largest economy on the planet? I will tell you how. We can enforce some of the federal laws that were suspended in the mid nineties. Tons of cash. Cars. Guns. Boats. They are making subs in the jungle, do we give up the war on drugs? They are saying you can have one hundred plants, do we let you? Apparently not. It would appear that the Latin Semantics of law have trumped the culturally determined rights of your chosen battleground very recently with the bust of a ‘legal dispensary.’

    All I am saying is that the rights that were violated in my ‘chip on the shoulder’ case are both written and culturally agreed upon. Unlike the war on prohibition to which they were sacrificed. I know you don’t want to like me, and that’s okay. I know that Humboldt wants to hate me (in my dreams they care what I say) and that my battle with the community is simply a pastime or a misguided outlet for my frustration. I not only admit it but embrace it. To be sure, I put a lot more energy into the requirements of life. One of the reasons that a sane society does not attempt to interfere with a parents right to raise their children is because there are very few more worthy causes one can defend. What’s first on your list of things worth dying for? Do drugs or kids make the list at all?

    Do I care about reefer? No. Do I care about prohibition or decriminalization? No.

    We could talk all day about this stuff, but I would feel a lot better about it if I could have one of your kids to raise while we discuss these less relevant topics. If you don’t have any kids, maybe you have brothers or sister with children and you can use your culturally agreed upon rights to convince them to give up their kids. This is inflammatory, but it’s not hateful. It’s designed to make you think more about what you say, not what I say. You say you have known folks physically addicted to pain meds. You have lived in Humboldt for a year. Have you met anybody who smokes more than three grams a day yet? Do you smoke that much? No piss test in your future, I assume… employment or otherwise. Sixty dollars a day. 8 out of 10 highscholl kids. That’s just a guess. Feel right? Know anybody with a trumped med card? Did you know that prop 19 is not going to help at all and the administration you used to work for is coming home soon?

    Wachovia and Wells Fargo have been laundering money for Mexican Cartels for decades and now they’ve merged. Big money lobbies passed legislation making it easier to launder money in California. A lot of out of work Americans are wondering where all the money went and a lot of black market cultivators are wondering where the money will be if they have to go legit. Sixteen years into fixing the planet with legal weed and now we’re trying to fix legal weed. I am trying to get onto a panel that discusses the issue At tax ppayers expense) and I keep getting rejected because I dropped out of high school. Maybe that’s my problem.

    Or I’m just pissed that California condones and supports kidnapping, which (incidentally) is one of the other marketing techniques of the industry you have not yet identified as having any separation from the local citizenry. An industry that merged with cartels at least one generation ago to protect their families the way we all have a right to. The way we see fit. I suspect that the longer you live there the less you want to hear from me.

    I very much enjoyed about ninety minutes getting to know you and I will arrange to read this blog again so I can understand you better. I have my next two posts pretty much committed, but I feel certain that our conversation will yield a relative topic for me soon. I have assigned three main categories to the problem surrounding the EmTri as it relates to the law and what I see developing there regardless of emotion or involvement. These three categories are Reefer Babies, Fraud Incorporated, and Guerrilla Daycare. I think you have provided me an opportunity to revisit Fraud Inc. a bit more concisely. God willing and the creek don’t rise, we will get there.

  5. July 12, 2010 at 12:51 am

    I actually support the coming legalization because I think the medical marijuana exception is mostly a scam. A clever scam, because it has some truth to it for a small (but not insignificant) percentage of the people who really do medicate with it, but I’d still like it better if we treated it the same way we treat alcohol. Out in the open, no more outlaw-cool factor, just a reasonably harmless drug that people can choose to use or not.

    I agree with you that the black market will suffer with legalization. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I find the prohibition label so very apt. Outlawed alcohol created crime. Outlawed marijuana did the same. Outlaw cigarettes tomorrow and you’d see just the same. It’s so distressingly predictable, that it makes you wonder if it’s not on purpose.

    I still don’t understand the weed-child custody connection, though. Like I said, I don’t know your situation, but it seems like those sorts of problems crop up everywhere, regardless of what people do for a living. You’re certainly not the first father I’ve heard complain about getting screwed by custody laws. You have my sympathy.

    I don’t know how the percentages of underage use match up here versus other places. I suspect that you’re right that it’s pretty high here, but kids smoke weed everywhere. They sneak alcohol, too. And cigarettes. Coke. Meth. Ecstasy. All that shit. That was true for me and my friends when we were teenagers, and I’ve seen the same sort of thing with the students I’ve had over the years. If anything, legalization (or decriminalization) will probably make those problems easier to deal with. Anything’s gotta be better than the hysterical way we deal with illegal substances now.

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