As a high school teacher for more than 30 years, mostly spent as a health teacher, I have some insight as to how the teen brain works when it comes to taking risks. I would like to explain why I strongly believe that passing Question 3, the medical marijuana law, would lead to more teen marijuana use.
The onset of risky behavior is usually accompanied by some form of justification. It is hard for kids to be self-destructive without it. “I may try drugs,” one might say, “but I’ll never do as many as she does.”
In 2008, when Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana, the intent may have been to unclog the courts. But the byproduct was more teen acceptance and use. I got this feedback from almost every health teacher I spoke with.
Medical marijuana may have uses. Our problem with the drug isn’t the patients who seek it out on the black market for treatment, but the increasing number of teens who use it to deal with their emotional lives at a time when they should be developing coping skills.
When the drinking age in this state was lowered to 18, statistics showed that virtually everything bad about alcohol and teens went up, from dropouts to accidents. I know that a medical marijuana bill does not make the drug “legal,” but every voter should think about the message it would send to teenagers.