Marijuana today, what tomorrow?

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I think it's a farce. A ruse at best, that by 2004 it could be legal for a 21-year-old to possess 3 ounces of marijuana and be free of any retribution as long as they stayed home.

It would still be illegal to smoke it in public places, illegal to smoke it in your car, illegal to drive under the influence and offer it for sale. And under the eyes of the federal government it remains illegal anyway.

So, what are we creating?

A state where it's legal to hole up in your house, get high as a kite and do what?

At some point, you'll have to leave and get more food.

Researchers say one of the short-term affects of marijuana use is anxiety.

So now we have a person, trapped at home smoking pot and growing anxious, paranoid about the back yard crop, and getting the munchies -- give that guy a gun, will ya?

He can't go anywhere, do anything. Except, I suppose, sign up for welfare? Which is of course not as much as his neighbor Ed gets. Damn the government to hell!

Even if users do manage to maintain within the bounds of society, don't problems with learning, distorted perceptions, trouble with thinking and problem solving and loss of coordination affect the rest of us in some way? Won't taxpayers bear the burden of cancer and the cost of the marijuana to treat the symptoms of chemo therapy? Sounds like a vicious circle. And one that apparently begins at an early age.

When 1,000 teens ages 12 to 17 say it's easier to buy pot than it is to buy beer or cigarettes, there's a problem.

The survey, done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, for the past seven years found 27 percent of those surveyed said they could buy marijuana in an hour or less; 8 percent said it would take a few hours.

In all seven years, the teens have said the biggest problem they face is drugs. A larger problem in their eyes than peer pressure, sexuality and crime.

This year, for the first time, though, 63 percent said they attend drug-free schools. However, 8 percent believe a teacher at school uses; 25 percent reported seeing drugs sold at school; 55 percent said they'd turn someone in if they some them using and 56 percent said they'd report someone they saw selling.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that by the time they have finished high school, 47 percent of teens have smoked pot; 24 percent have used another illicit drug and 81 percent have drunk alcohol, while 70 percent have smoked cigarettes.

To put an end to the circle of use, abuse, disease and death the center suggests parents get involved in their children's lives.

"Years of research have repeatedly found that parents are the most important resource we have to prevent substance abuse in our teens. In the 2000 survey, half of teens who had not tried marijuana credited their parents with their decision."

Are the anti-drug squads making progress? Maybe, but what does legalization of 3 ounces of pot for those 21 or older do to that progress?

According to an Associated Press story in Monday's edition, Teresa Jempsa, a school counselor, says the initiative sends the message "it's OK to take drugs." Jempsa asked "If marijuana becomes legal, then what drug is next?"

It's a good question that only time will answer.

For now, parents can talk to their children, express negative feelings about abuse and use and register to vote and cast a no vote on Question 9 on Nov. 5.

Kelli Du Fresne is features editor of the Nevada Appeal.


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