I wish the President had not waded into the marijuana craze that is sweeping the country. Or at least he had commented on the issue as a parent rather than a politician. But then again politicians tend to see everything as a political opportunity. Whatever the President said, no matter how you parse his words, what many teenagers heard was the "Obama says pot is OK".
This makes it even more difficult for parents who are trying to get their kids not to smoke pot. Parents in this country, especially in Colorado and Washington just don't need the President giving their children another excuse to rebel against them. In fact it would have been nice for the President to let parents know that he was interested in putting up more walls and hurdles to make it more difficult for young people to get pot by using his "pen" or simply by actually enforcing existing marijuana laws. The Presidential seal of approval on marijuana is certainly something that parents could have done without.
I know the President said he tells his daughters not to smoke pot. Good. However he seems to forget that it's a lot easier for them to "just say no" since the likelihood of his daughters getting their hands on a joint is almost nil considering they are surrounded by Secret Service personnel. But for every other teenager whether in an inner city or suburban high school the "just say no" Nancy Regan approach to drug abuse prevention is a joke.
The President also answered the question in a way a lot of parents who smoked pot answer: "Well I used it when I was young and I turned out OK." That's a very risky answer. Just because you did it and got away with it certainly is not a predictor that your child will not suffer some serious consequences. Too often those who experience no detrimental effect from occasional pot use think that a universal experience. Yet our society's problem with drug abuse proves that very wrong. When a parent who used drugs or uses drugs looks at their young child and asks, "Do I want my child to use drugs?" how do they answer?
In this marijuana mania sweeping the country whether for medical or recreational purposes we seem to forget that keeping bad behavior limited to "free adults who have a right to determine their own existence" is nearly impossible. Have we kept cigarettes out of the hands of young people, have we kept pornography out of the hands of young people, have we kept alcohol from the hands of young people? So why do we think that marijuana which harms the unformed psyche of teenagers will be any different, any less harmful? Especially since we already know that teen use of marijuana is epidemic.
One of the weakest arguments in favor of legalized marijuana use is that alcohol, an intoxicant is also legal. Well there is no doubt about the devastating effects of alcohol on individuals, families and society. Do we really want to increase those negative effects by adding pot to the list of potential intoxicants to abuse? And if we add pot why not other drugs? Where's the line?
As I have said before, marijuana is the most dangerous drug simply because so many people think it is harmless. Which means you have an intoxicating substance that has potential serious consequences being used by people who think it almost innocuous. People thought the same thing about cigarettes and cocaine until the consequences became undeniable.
I realize that the generation pushing for legal status for marijuana is the same generation that grew up watching "Reefer Madness" and Cheech and Chong both of which made the anti-pot position a laughing matter. Unfortunately too many of that generation got stuck in that way of thinking and rather than fixing the problem they are making it worse. Life is not a Cheech and Chong movie.
Drugs, it is often said are for people who can't handle reality. Well reality is for people who can't handle drugs. Which can't you handle?
Fr. John B.