We were parked in a parking garage, top floor, with a view of the distant mountains. All of us, Jimmy, Ronnie, and me, were sixteen years old. The sun was setting, and the sky was glowing red, purple and orange as we passed the joint around on a hot summer night. Suddenly, a car pulled up next to us, and Jimmy’s mom got out. We were busted! But, Jimmy’s mom did not freak out. She asked us all to get out of the car and had a talk with us right there on the parking garage. She was disappointed in all of us, but somehow let us know she really cared. I remember thinking, what a cool mom. Then she went home.
Marijuana is on America’s mind. According to a recent study by the Partnership at Drugfree.org, one in ten American teens smoke marijuana at least twenty or more times per month. That means over two million teens smoke pot regularly, many every day. Though marijuana remains illegal for anyone under the age of twenty-one, the reality is that millions of American teens will try marijuana this year. As of this edition, medical marijuana is legal in over 33 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Numerous states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and several other states have relaxed marijuana drug laws. Internationally, the countries of Uruguay and Canada have legalized marijuana. Comparatively, the harshest laws for marijuana possession are in places like Japan, Indonesia, and most Arab countries where laws for possession are strict and those caught selling the drug may be sentenced to death.
This book is not about promoting or discouraging the smoking of marijuana. This is about the reality of smoking pot and harm reduction. The idea for writing the book came about from a series of conversations with a colleague. He is a licensed counselor for at-risk youth, and many of his teen patients smoke pot. We discussed the need for young people who smoke pot to be smart about it. "Smart" does not mean book smart. Smart means knowing how to be successful, thrive, and create a good life in the present, which leads to the future.
In the end, Cannabis Craze is a young person’s survival guidebook to something millions of Americans do: smoke weed. Knowing how to smoke smart is essential for maintaining a balanced life, in which you feel good about your personal choices and accomplishments. And, if you have not noticed, balance is essential to survival. Without it, people, get sick. With balance, which takes practice, life’s journey is simply more enjoyable. This balance will ideally allow you to blossom as an individual and pursue your dreams.
There are many reasons young people start smoking pot, but some of the most important reasons are:
1. Relaxing or escaping from the pressures of life.
2. Belonging to a community and making friendships.
3. Developing a personal identity.
4. Peer pressure.
For the most part, teens are on their own when it comes to smoking pot. Many parents will say and see nothing, unless there is a problem. Maybe your parents have a little marijuana chat with you, but if you are doing well with school, home, and friends, there is often less worry from Mom or Dad. That’s fine. Teens figure things out as they go along.
People ask, “Aren’t adolescent pot smokers generally unproductive, lazy, and goofy, messing up their short-term memory, among other brain functions?” Yes. And no. Science is still figuring out the long-term effects of smoking pot. A big concern is how a beginner handles smoking pot. The reality is that there are young people who are smart about smoking (and by smart, I mean having common sense and discipline). How you smoke pot (if you smoke pot) is important. Some young people make a mess of smoking pot and do poorly at school. Some young people do fine.
In a groundbreaking study (March 2014) Peggy van der Pol of the Trimbos Institute of the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, determined that how pot is smoked affects addiction risk.
Because some people will thrive and get ahead in life, while occasionally smoking pot, and others will not, knowing how to smoke smart is essential. How you smoke pot means how often, where, and when.
REFLECTION: If you smoke pot, why did you start? If not, do you think you ever will?