[Fact: Drugs are pervasive in our society and, one way or another, adolescents will be exposed to mind-altering substances.]
It is an unmistakable reality that a significant number of high school students will try marijuana. According to the recent 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey, nearly 40 percent of all high school seniors admit to having smoked marijuana in the past year – a percentage that has held relatively stable since the study’s inception over 35 years ago.
Some want to use this fact as a justification to deny any opportunity to rationally discuss marijuana, its use, and its risks with children in an open and honest manner. They think that saying anything about marijuana other than encouraging its total abstinence is condoning its use. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
When society teaches sex education, are we suggesting that all the teenagers go out and engage in sexual intercourse? No. Rather, it is an acknowledgement that the best way to reduce the negative effects associated with sex (unwanted pregnancy, STD’s, etc) is through honest, objective information that allow people to understand their options and provides them with the tools they need to make informed decisions.
When we talk to teenagers about the dangers of drinking and driving, are we condoning alcohol use among minors? No, of course not. It is, however, a reality that many adolescents will a) likely consume alcohol as seniors in high school and b) have access to a car. Yes, we encourage students not to drink. But, we urge them specifically not to drink and drive.
We can all agree that teens should not smoke pot, or be using any mind-altering substances. Those are important, developmental years. Still, teens should be educated regarding how smoking marijuana can affect their body’s development specifically, how to reduce any harms associated with its use, and to distinguish between use and abuse. There should be honest, truthful drug education.
As Kristen Gwynne states in her AlterNet article, “Give young people accurate information, and they will use it to make better decisions that result in less harm to themselves, because teens, like everybody else, do not actually want to get hurt or become addicts.”
She goes on to say, “Giving students honest information about drugs [will]…increase the odds that they will use drugs safely, and reduce the likelihood of experiencing the [relative] harms associated with [it].”
By contrast, the Drug Czar and federal law advocates for complete prohibition, limited information explaining the real effects of marijuana and condemning any opportunity, as Gwynne states, to provide “education that helps teens understand their health options, and ways of reducing the harm of drugs.” When it comes to our children, like everything else we teach in school for development and behavioral growth, drug education should be based in reality, not a denial of it.
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “If a state expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
A new study out today estimates that one-third of US young people will be arrested or taken into custody for illegal or delinquent offenses (excluding arrests for minor traffic violations) by the age of 23.
CBS News/Web MD reports on the findings here:
Parents and non-parents alike might be shocked to learn a new study estimates that roughly 1 in 3 U.S. youths will be arrested for a non-traffic offense by age 23 – a “substantively higher” proportion than predicted in the 1960s.
The study, posted online by the journal Pediatrics, shows that between about 25% to 41% of 23-year-olds have been arrested or taken into police custody at least once for a non-traffic offense. If you factor in missing cases, that percentage could lie between about 30% and 41%.
What was learned was that the risk was greatest during late adolescence or emerging adulthood. The study also shows that by age 18, about 16% to 27% have been arrested.
… The researchers base their conclusion on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, ages 8 to 23. Data analyzed in the new study came from national surveys of youth conducted annually from 1997 to 2008.
Their finding contrasts with a 1965 study that predicted 22% of U.S. youths would be arrested for an offense other than a minor traffic violation by age 23.
Why the Rise in Arrests?
The researchers cite some “compelling reasons” for the increase.
“The criminal justice system has clearly become more aggressive in dealing with offenders (particularly those who commit drug offenses and violent crimes) since the 1960s,” the authors, all criminologists, write. In addition, “there is some evidence that the transition from adolescence to adulthood has become a longer process.”
From the 1920s through the 1960s, the proportion of the population that was incarcerated remained remarkably stable at about 100 inmates per 100,000 people, researcher Robert Brame, PhD, of the department of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, tells WebMD. Today, Brame says, that figure has soared to 500 inmates per 100,000 people.
While it is commendable that CBS is highlighting the findings of this troubling data, it’s frustrating that the network’s editors appear blissfully unaware
of what is one of the most painfully obvious drivers of this surge in juvenile arrests: the ever-increasing enforcement of marijuana prohibition.
As I stated from the stage at the 2008 NORML national conference, “It’s Not Your Parents’ Prohibition,” the so-called ‘war’ on pot is largely a criminal crackdown on young people.
Young people, in many cases those under 18-years-of-age, disproportionately bear the brunt of marijuana law enforcement.
… According to a 2005 study commissioned by the NORML Foundation, 74 percent of all Americans busted for pot are under age 30, and 1 out of 4 are age 18 or younger. That’s nearly a quarter of a million teenagers arrested for marijuana violations each year.
… [I]f we ever want the marijuana laws to change, that we as a community have to better represent the interests of young people, and we must do a better job speaking on their — and their parent’s — behalf.
(Read my entire remarks here.)
Since 1965, police have made an estimated 21.5 million arrests for marijuana-related offense, according to cumulative data published by the FBI. Some 8 million of these arrests have occurred since 2000.
Assuming that nearly three out of four of those arrested in the past decade were under age 30, that equates to the arrest of some 6 million young people — including 2 million teenagers — for marijuana-related offenses since the year 2000.
In short, marijuana prohibition isn’t protecting kids; its endangering them. We now have an entire generation that has been alienated to believe that the police and their civic leaders are instruments of their oppression rather than their protection.
And the sad fact is: they’re right.
By: Diane Fornbacher
From the majestic redwoods of Humboldt county to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the NORML Women’s Alliance’s Sabrina Fendrick, Kyndra Miller, Melissa Sanchez and I toured almost the entire Sunshine State for nine days prior to Thanksgiving to rally our sisters and brothers in preparation for what will be a mighty 2012 for us all in drug policy reform.
The tour began at a beach-side co-op in the company of our NORML Women’s Alliance colleague Annarae Grabstein of Steep Hill Lab. We enjoyed a brainstorming session and sunset barbecue, then prepared for the incredibly scenic drive north up to Humboldt county the next day to attend 707 Cannabis College’s Hempfest event at the Mateel Community Center in Garberville.
The panel was moderated by Terri Klemetson, News Coordinator for Redwood Community News (KMUD). Speaking were the esteemed Paul Gallegos, Humboldt County District Attorney; Mark Lovelace, Humboldt County Supervisor; Dan Rush, Director of the Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division of United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; Matt Witemyre, Chief of Staff at Medi-Cone; Alexis Wilson-Briggs, Esq., Criminal Defense Attorney/Pier 5 Law Offices and recently named San Francisco and Sacramento NORML Women’s Alliance Community Leader; Samantha Miller, President-Chief Scientist at Pure Analytics, LLC; and Paul J. Von Hartmann, Cannabis Scholar and Biodynamic Agriculturist.
The panel was very lively, and at times heated, with Wilson Briggs asking for clarification from D.A. Gallegos on many different topics, most specifically regarding enforcement tactics, difficulties reconciling state law versus the federal stance on cannabis and protecting local citizens. Overall, the energy was receptive, friendly and informative. Citizens addressed the panelists at the culmination of the event and what was most enlightening to us was how open and honest the farmers were with officials, genuinely wanting to work with the system, be respected in their industry by the government and have best practices so that they may do clean as well as successful business.
Afterward, we were treated to a tour of 707 Cannabis College with Kellie Dodds, Pearl Moon and Donna King. 707 is located in the heart of the “Emerald Triangle” where, “the highest quality education in the health benefits of appropriate cannabis use, sustainable cannabis horticulture and evolving cannabis law” is provided. We were delighted to see that the NORML Women’s Alliance has a huge presence at 707 with a permanent education access table, lots of enthusiasm and solidarity.
The next day, before heading to our evening fundraiser and screening of “A NORML Life” in San Francisco, we spent the day at the historic Pier 5 Law offices of Tony Serra, where NWA’s Kyndra Miller, Esq. has an office. Pier 5 has a long history of defending human rights and is an environment that has a strong female presence. While we were nearing the end of our workday, we were treated to a visit from the humble and sweet, Mr. Clint Werner. He stopped by with his amazing book “Marijuana: Gateway to Health”, a new release.
At the screening of Rod Pitman’s, “A NORML Life”, many NORML principals are featured in the film including Members of the Board: Dale Gieringer, Madeline Martinez, George Rohrbacher, William Panzer, Esq., Allen St. Pierre, and Keith Stroup . Tonya Davis, winner of NORML’s Pauline Sabin Award (In Honor Of And Recognition For The Crucial Need And Importance Of Women Leadership In Ending Marijuana Prohibition) was prominently featured in an inspiring narrative. Also in the house was Lynette Shaw (Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana), Paul Armentano (Deputy Director NORML) who gave a rousing speech in support of the NWA, Ellen Komp (CANORML), Jack Rikess (Toke of the Town), NORML Attorney Matt Kumin, actress Heather Donahue of the Blair Witch Project, and many others at the forefront of reform in California. Executive Producer of the film, Mr. Pitman, gave a very entertaining free form Q&A session after the screening. The event was hosted by NORML Board member Richard Wolfe and his terrific assistant, Grynn. Catering was provided by the lovely Caitlin Martens.
The next day, we headed south to Los Angeles and the Hollywood Hills for our fundraiser, A Cause to Laugh, at The Comedy Union in Los Angeles. The event was hosted by Brooks Colyar and comedienne Simply Cookie emceed. In the house was Co-Founder and Director of Unconventional Foundation for Autism, Ms. Mieko Hester-Perez, well known also as Joey’s Mom. We want to thank everyone who participated in making this event amazing, especially Enss Mitchell, purveyor of the Comedy Union for believing in the NWA and providing valuable insight to achieve our goals for all demographics. Also, special thanks to Cheri Sicard for volunteering, as well as Kandice Hawes (OCNORML) for attending with friends.
It’s really quite difficult to summarize the trip into words but Melissa Sanchez was able to really encapsulate the energy of what we experienced during our whirlwind tour. She explained that, “from the people of Humboldt – people with so much heart living in the beautiful old forest – to the people of San Francisco who are dedicated to the never-ending work of politics and activism to Los Angeles where we were reaching out to a community who knows all about the real impact of the war on drugs, it was inspirational journey. Our movement is large and encompasses people who are not yet active in it: People whose families are affected by the drug war in Latin America, mothers who are patients but can’t speak out because they are afraid of the state taking their children, seniors who are fed up with taking medicine that may end up hurting them instead of healing them, and many others. The NORML Women’s Alliance is here to help bring more people into the movement. The more diverse and broad our movement, the sooner we will see significant change.”
If you too believe in a better and safer world, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the NORML Women’s Alliance today. Thank you so much for your financial and moral support.
The outreach efforts of the NORML Women’s Alliance are pivotal to NORML’s overall goal of cannabis liberation.
NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition. Similarly, one of the intended goals of the NWA is to sufficiently move public opinion forward among women. Because without increased public support among women, we will arguably never bring about an end to this failed, destructive war of cannabis consumers.
There exists a startling gender gap between men and women when it comes to the issue of marijuana legalization. And even though over the past decade the work of NORML and likeminded organizations have effectively shifted public opinion overall in favor of rational marijuana policies – from just 36 percent public support in 2005 to 50 percent public support today – the gap between men and women’s support for legalization remains nearly the same now as it was then.
Here’s some statistics:
According to a 2005 nationwide Gallup poll, 41 percent of men said they favored cannabis legalization versus 32 percent of women, a gap of 9 percent;
According to a 2007 Zogby poll commissioned by NORML that asked, ‘Do you support amending federal law to remove criminal penalties for the use of marijuana by adults,’ 57 percent of men supported such a measure versus 41 percent of women, a difference of 16 percent;
According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 51 percent of men favored legalizing cannabis versus 41 percent of women, a gap of 10 percent;
A finally, the most recent Gallup survey from 2011 found that 55 percent of men favored legalization, but only 46 percent of women did so, a difference of 9 percent.
Are we making progress in shifting public opinion overall? Yes. But there continues to exist a significant and troubling gender gap that limits our efforts to bring about majority support for responsible cannabis liberation. The NWA seeks to close this gap by reaching out, engaging with, educating, and addressing the unique concerns of women. You can learn more about the NORML Women’s Alliance and their work here.
We reap what we sow….
On the verge of a three night PBS documentary series on the abject failure of Alcohol Prohibition (one of the taglines for the documentary is ‘a look back to when a law made America lawless’) an email from a victim of the modern prohibition that has totally failed affirms the obvious: Cannabis Prohibition must end. We must stop arresting, prosecuting, incarcerating ,drug testing, labeling for life and causing great physical, mental and economic harm to citizens who choose to use cannabis for relaxation or as a therapeutic agent.
NORML receives dozens and dozens of emails, letters and phone calls DAILY from citizens experiencing the waste, cruelty and ineffectiveness of Cannabis Prohibition vis-a-vis the criminal justice system. Of course, with over 850,000 cannabis-related arrests per year (with nearly 90% of the arrests for possession-only) there is a never ending reservoir of citizen-government horror stories that the organization can highlight.
Want to know what can happen to you or your children during modern America’s Cannabis Prohibition era if caught with a mere trace of cannabis?
Please find below an extremely well written email received by NORML last night by a young woman in Kentucky who has unfortunately experienced the lancet’s tip of Cannabis Prohibition. I respect her intelligence, moxie and recognition that what her own government did to her was wrong and that the policies have to change to stop what really has become nothing more than citizen abuse by Prohibition-loving law enforcement agencies. Regrettably, elected policy makers continue to not respect the general population’s desire for degrees of cannabis law reforms:
According to most national polling today, approximately 75% of the population favors medical access to cannabis; 73% support decriminalizing; and 45% support legalizing it like alcohol.
With clear public support increasing every year for substantive cannabis law reforms, when will politicians start listening more to their bosses—the voting public—than from the Prohibition-loving law enforcement agencies that created Cannabis Prohibition in the 1930s and who today vigorously defend an antiquated policy that causes more harm than good?
Is it not shortsighted to the point of reckless that the producers and consumers of alcohol and tobacco products do not also recognize what kind of hurt from the government is coming down the pike for them too—using the same force of law and legal precedent established to rationalize 74 years of Cannabis Prohibition—once their products enter into the government’s crosshairs of political incorrectness?
—— Forwarded Message
From: Brittany M.
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2011 17:42:03 -0400
Subject: PLEASE READ! Why I Support NORML!
Hello, fellow good-doers. Since recently discovering NORML via internet research, I have become elated to realize that there is a group of serious people ready to make serious change regarding marijuana laws. I am a citizen of Elliott County, Kentucky-an extremely small town in northeaster KY. I believe that an abundance of citizens stand to gain a whole lot from your organization, if they can all be made aware of its existence. Kentucky’s ridiculous marijuana laws have caused me so much turmoil and pain that I couldn’t resist contacting you PERSONALLY to tell you my story.
I am seventeen years old now, but not in high school. It’s not because I’m lazy or a drop-out, but because I graduated two years early, as a sophomore. Not only have I always maintained straight-A’s, but I was accepted into Morehead State University at only sixteen years of age! I had everyone’s support, and I was far beyond excited to finally be academically challenged. My life had done a complete 180 at this point, because it wasn’t too long prior that I was in shambles…
I suffer from anxiety and major depression. When I was thirteen, I attempted suicide and began my journey into the world of psychiatric “help”. I was medicated with Zoloft, Trazadone, and at least five other anti-anxiety/antidepressants that I can’t recall the names of. Some of them made my hair fall out, while others caused me to sweat and shake uncontrollably. All of them required a two-week period of adjustment upon starting, during which I would vomit more than I care to speak of. Nowadays, I am prescribed to take two Prozac capsules every single day, and I may very well have to take them for the rest of my living days. But, admittedly, marijuana helped me overcome the side effects that were crippling me. My first day on campus, in January of 2011, was the best I’ve had. For the first time in a long time, I felt normal. I went to class, I met a boy, and everyone wanted to be my friend. The next day, it was time for me to move into my dorm room. I arrived well before my classes would begin, but I would never make it to class that day. An anonymous tip had been called in to the campus police department that I was a “pot head”. I had a debilitating anxiety attack while I watched three uniformed police officers tear through all of my belongings, throwing them aside as if they were garbage, and never once asking me, “What is wrong?”, or, “What are these medications for?”. Minutes later I was whisked away, bad-mouthed by the Dean of Students (who had just been commending me on my ACT score of 30), and told that I was to leave and could not return until the Fall of 2013, a whole year after my original class, who I had long since surpassed, would graduate and move on.
In August, after months and months of torture-seeing everyone else being happy and college-bound-and being tied up in Kentucky’s legal system, I had my final court date. I was administered a supervised drug test, for which I passed all but THC, and sentenced to 7 days in Boyd Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Ashland, KY I am fully aware that it is meant to be a punishment and not a vacation, but the facility was filthy and very poorly maintained. I witnessed two staff members mocking a much younger boy who was obviously mentally handicapped. I was forced to drink from a glass that had insects and dirt festering in the bottom. On top of all of this, my mother was provided with paperwork stating that I was to be placed on a mandatory orientation that would last for 48 hours, which I was unaware of until I came home. However, within the facility, we were told that orientation was no less than four days.
I rested very well on night number four, having finally spoken to my family. However, the next day I awoke to a brand-spanking-new, and very rigorous exercise regimen, introduced to us by a male employee who I was seeing on this day for the very first time. During this regimen, I had an anxiety attack and everyone was asked to return to their cells while I was left to the floor, gasping for air and being closely watched, but otherwise unattended. We ate our breakfast in the festering cesspool of a cafeteria, and then a female worker led us, not to our block, but to the gymnasium for more exercise. Sometime during this activity, I began to feel weak, and weird. Something totally foreign came over me, and I was scared. I raised my hand, and waited to be called on, as was protocol, and quickly informed the staff member that I thought something was really wrong. She simply replied that if I were to vomit, I would be cleaning it myself, and told me to run six laps for speaking out. I’m not completely clear about what happened after that, other than that I hit the concrete floor, hard.
I awoke much later, in a daze, and projectile vomiting ensued. I was loaded into an ambulance, accompanied by the female worker who continuously asked me if I had medical insurance. I was far too shaken, scared, and sick to pay her much attention at the time. Here I was puking into a bag that the ambulance attendant provided me, and she wanted to know about my insurance policy? I was whisked out of the ambulance and into the ER, with shackles around my feet. All I could think about was my mother, and so I asked if she had been called. She had not. I noted a nearby clock on the wall of my hospital room read 9:45. I was scanned, poked, prodded, and MRI-ed for what felt like an eternity, until they finally informed me that I had suffered an acute heart attack and may also have mitral valve prolapse (MVP), a heart condition that caused me synocopal episodes, and that I would need to be back the next day for more tests.
Still too weak to walk, I was wheeled in a wheelchair to the front door, where BOTH the female and male staff members from BRJDC were waiting with big smiles and a bag of fast food for me. Still, they were curious about my insurance My family has zero income, and so I explained to them that I have a medical card provided to me by the state. We pulled back into the facility, and I was put in a holding cell instead of my regular room. I tossed and turned and listened to muffled voices from behind the door, until finally an unfamiliar staff member came to me with a box of my clothes, and announced to me that I was going home.
I ran to my mother and hugged her. I was seeing sunshine for the first time in five or six days. It felt like a miracle. In the car, I saw that it was 3:15. I asked my mother why she didn’t come to the hospital, and she told me that she had only just been called, and rushed right over. She had no idea what had happened to me. Our brief reunion was devastated in the following weeks with doctors and tests, hospitals and neurologists, who finally put me on two new medicines that I will, once again, most likely have to be on for the rest of my life.
BUT MY QUESTION TO YOU IS THIS…how much marijuana was I arrested with that caused me all this turmoil? Back in January, back on campus, back in the campus PD…they weighed the crumpled cellophane from my pocket and the digital scale read 0.2 grams.
My college career, my mental stability, and above all else, my health, have been irreversibly damaged. I feel as though NORML can make sure that nothing like this happens to anyone in a situation similar to mine ever again. I wouldn’t wish this travesty on any mother and daughter, and I know that you would not either.
Thank you for listening,