Mountain View Voice

Opinion - April 4, 2014

Parent struggles with teens' marijuana use

by A Concerned High School Parent

The April 3 forum on "designer drugs" at Mountain View High High School is fine but what we really need is a forum on "regular" drugs, like marijuana. Use of marijuana is rampant among local high school students. They feel it is virtually harmless and that there is no risk of addiction.

About 30 percent of Los Altos High school students use it regularly, according to an unofficial Facebook survey by a student. Just ask local police and the Sheriff's department how many stops, citations and arrests they make in Los Altos and Mountain View for teens for possession and/or driving under the influence.

Marijuana is readily available in Mountain View at a low cost. My teens report that it is easier and cheaper to get than alcohol and much more popular. Legalizing medical marijuana has had the consequence of helping teens get easy access. Many high school seniors get a medical marijuana card as soon as they turn 18. There are plenty of doctors in San Jose who will readily authorize "medical" use for anyone over 18. It is a short walk from the doctor's office to the marijuana dispensaries to buy very potent marijuana legally.

New technology and new methods of ingesting marijuana help make it more prevalent and more risky. Vaporizers that are the size and shape of a pen and can easily be tucked in a pocket or backpack make it easy to "smoke," as the teens say, anywhere. Some students at Los Altos get high right in the classroom or while driving using vaporizers that do not emit any odor. Then there is the practice of "moling" which involves adding tobacco to the marijuana and even more risky is "dabbing." Dabbing involves using a wax from the oil of the marijuana, then heating the wax and inhaling the vapors. This induces a very strong and instantaneous high that is much more impairing and dangerous than just smoking it.

Parents and concerned residents of Mountain View and Los Altos need a forum about marijuana use among our teens. We need the high schools to do more to discourage regular marijuana use and help parents to deal with our teens who are using or may be using, who are addicted or failing school because of their psychological dependence on "weed." We parents need emotional and practical support for the very difficult challenges of parenting teens who are using it regularly. Most of us have not viewed marijuana as particularly harmful and have had our own experiences with it in younger days, but the use is different now, starting younger, with more feeling that it is acceptable. With more potent marijuana and more teens who are stressed out, depressed and anxious, these kids are much more vulnerable to addiction. For parents struggling with teens who use and abuse it, please know that you are not alone.

And by the way, don't call it "pot." The teens hate that. If you hear them talking about "smoking" they are referring to smoking marijuana, not cigarettes.

The author, who describes herself as a concerned and struggling parent, asked that her name not be used to protect the identity of her children.

Comments

Posted by Calm One, a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 4, 2014 at 7:15 pm

While I can appreciate that the author has concerns, the concerns are misguided, promote a culture of fearmongering, and are largely unsubstantiated.

To start, the author writes "[high school children] feel it is virtually harmless and that there is no risk of addiction." In fact, there is no risk for addiction. Marijuana houses no properties that are addictive. Marijuana may be habit-forming, but so is television, food, and brushing your teeth, all of which I'm sure the author partakes in. In comparison to alcohol, a socially acceptable drug responsible for more than 88, 000 deaths per year, marijuana IS as the author writes, "virtually harmless." Even in isolation, as in not compared to alcohol, marijuana is hardly harmful.

"Just ask local police and the Sheriff's department how many stops, citations and arrests they make in Los Altos and Mountain View for teens for possession and/or driving under the influence," the author tells us. But I am left wondering why, if it is such important and accessible information, the author does not tell us herself how many stops, citations and arrests the MVLA police make. Curious.

Next, I'd like to address the author's claim that "legalizing medical marijuana has had the consequence of helping teens get easy access." Does she have any record of this? Any numbers at all? In my memory, marijuana was still the most easily accessible drug long before the legalization of medical marijuana. Alcohol is available at almost every food store in California, and presents far greater dangers to children.

The author also admonishes the potency of medical marijuana sold in dispensaries. But I wonder if the author knows that the marijuana sold in the dispensaries has been scientifically engineered in labs. It's about as safe as you can get. These marijuana plants are grown by professionals with officials standards and requirements, not so different from pharmacy medications. They know exactly what percent of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is present in the plant, for every and all plants. This is a huge step from the marijuana the author of this article probably was used to seeing growing up.

Next, the author makes the claim that "new technology and new methods of ingesting marijuana help make it more prevalent and more risky." This may be the biggest problem I truly take with this article, because it shows the absolute lack of research and facts, a point I will again be returning to.
Vaporizing appears to be this author's biggest concern in the "new technology" department. My problem, of course, is that she calls vaporizers risky. Vaporizing marijuana is one of the cleanest, purest ways to ingest it. It does not combust the marijuana, but rather vaporizes it, meaning that it activates and releases only the THC molecules instead of all chemicals in the marijuana flower. It is akin to the difference between drinking water from the tap or filtering it first. It in no way makes it "more risky." Now, do vapor pens make marijuana use more prevalent? That depends on how much money your child has. Most vapor pens are around $100. Although the price drops everyday, this is one aspect of marijuana usage that a parent would appear to have the most amount of control over. How much money do you give your child? How much money does your child make at his or her job?
Dabbing, as the author brings up, is indeed a very potent way to smoke marijuana. It's like liquor as opposed to beer or wine. It would, I venture, be fairly difficult to get one's hands on dabbing materials without having a medical marijuana license. And, since one must be an adult to acquire a medical marijuana license, I would also venture that this alleged problem has more to do with adults, and is therefore none of the author's business, or it has more to do with the kind of company one's child keeps, and less to do with marijuana.

The author pins the responsibility of marijuana awareness on the high schools. I find this proclamation risible. If the high schools aren't in the business of promoting marijuana, why on earth would it be their responsibility to demote it? This is a parent's prerogative, not the school's, especially since it seems like what the author has in mind is an official and public aversion to marijuana. Perhaps we should encourage the schools to discourage ibuprofen use since it can cause liver damage.

In fact, I believe most of this article has more to do with bringing one's child up responsibly with the kinds of morals one subscribes to than with marijuana. But the author has taken the time and effort to proliferate, quite frankly, a culture of marijuana based on her own personal feelings and fear. Does the author, I wonder, have any idea why marijuana was made illegal in America in the first place? Money, government control, and xenophobia. Marijuana was never made illegal for the dangers it presented to users.

I fear that the "concerned high school parent" of this article is promoting an uneducated view of marijuana based on personal belief rather than facts, and that the problem she seeks to solve may be resolved with a little soul searching and reading of facts. She may find her concerns immediately alleviated.


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