The conundrum legal marijuana places on educators is problematic. In Colorado, teachers are struggling with the use of recreational marijuana. They say that even the term “recreational” implies that it is fun, and by implication, safe. It is yet another example of unintended consequences when a substance that can be abused is introduced into society without proper education and control. We saw it with Oxycontin, when it was released in 1996, and it was promoted to general practitioners as a safe, low addiction potential, pain medication that could be used for minor injuries.
The increase of marijuana related “incidents” in Colorado middle schools is rising. Kids see their older siblings using pot with impunity, and pot supply outlets popping up everywhere like liquor stores, and they see no potential down side. The juvenile brain only gets one chance to develop, and if we let kids believe there are no consequences to marijuana use, the take it and run with it. Back in the 1970′s I saw the same thing, and I believed that I could use it safely. It was truly a gateway drug for me and many others.
The fact that new articles start hitting the media that say pot is safer than alcohol, or is a good alternative for heroin and opiate users to transition to, aren’t helping. Every serious heroin addict I know would not even consider marijuana as a long term solution to using opioids. It just doesn’t work that way in the real world of addiction. Pot, in its current potency, is no longer safe no matter how you slice it. Pot dulls the senses, slows reaction times etc. It is not safe.
The cost for Colorado, and eventually every state that legalizes pot, is rising. The hurry to get marijuana out in public results in a renewed health crisis. We thought the drug war was a “war” and that we could legislate our way out of it with criminal statutes. We were wrong about that as we now see the public health issues surrounding illicit drug abuse. We are wrong again, as we see the new public health crisis that legalized marijuana will bring as we speak.