Reclassifying Cannabis

The article “Reclassifying cannabis ‘would make no difference to young’ – Experts say that the vast majority of teenagers get the drug from their friends” by Jonathan Owen from U.K.’s The Independent, January 6, 2008, relates to basic concerns that need attention in the U. S. as well as the U.K. and probably other countries as well.     

As for the title of the article as implied reason against returning to the higher classification of cannabis in the U.K., there has long been awareness that teenagers in the U. S. are getting their cannabis mainly from friends or relatives (as older siblings) rather than directly from drug dealers, certainly in early stages of use, and that was probably also the case in the U.K. prior to its having lowered the classification.But some of the teens must surely get the drugs from for-profit dealers in order to have a supply to share with friends and relatives.  

The quoted report stated that young people need to be educated about the health risks, but that supposedly has been ongoing in schools for years.I have been a member of several grassroots volunteer drug prevention organizations since 1983, having become involved as a parent, and not one of those organizations has examined school drug curriculum.Yet, I have read complaints from several credible sources about the psychosocial approach that is dominantly used in school drug education/prevention in theUnited States (and perhaps other countries as well?).   

Those critiques point out that the psychosocial approach with its focus on teaching decision-making skills and on self-esteem implies to youth that they have the ability and maturity to make their own decisions regarding drug use.Furthermore, these decision-making activities often are not related to drug use, and indications are that there has been too little taught about the health and behavioral consequences of drug use.The psychosocial approach often uses classroom group discussions about drug use instead of focusing on teacher lecturing, thus students are indirectly encouraged to be influenced by their peers instead of adult authorities.School drug curriculum should be regularly reviewed by drug prevention organizations with more thorough information on what the complaints have been than in these several sentences.   

With cannabis use having become so prevalent among youth and so many cultural influences to use drugs, neither parents nor law enforcement should be expected to be the main detectors of youth drug use or of no-use enforcement.Experience has shown that is not realistic.  With technology of drug testing now available, schools and other youth organizations, such as sports teams, need to randomly drug test their students and participants and then provide graduated consequences for positive tests without involvement of law enforcement.Parents and law enforcement need that support and assistance from society.And most importantly, youth needs that adult-provided protection.

Nancy Starr

Source:  DrugWatch International   January 2008

Filed under: Cannabis/Marijuana,Parents :

Back to top of page - Back to Parents

Powered by WordPress