Anti-Pot Campaigns Face New Obstacle

Aug 4, 2013

Gabrielle Abesamis said she and her class­mates at Niles West High School in Skokie receive plenty of infor­ma­tion about mar­i­juana from their health teach­ers, but when it comes to using the drug, some of her peers shrug off the lessons and just say YOLO — “You Only Live Once.” With med­ical mar­i­juana now encoded into Illi­nois law, she said, that atti­tude will only strengthen. “Even though it’s for med­ical use, I don’t think that mat­ters to them,” said Abesamis, 17. “The fact that it’s legal for some peo­ple to pos­sess it, they feel it’s OK for them to have it too.” Illi­nois on Thurs­day became the 20th state to legal­ize pot for some med­ical patients, and although law­mak­ers say the rules will be among the tough­est in the nation, edu­ca­tors and treat­ment experts worry that putting a par­tial stamp of approval on a once-forbidden drug will send a con­fus­ing mes­sage to young peo­ple. “What hap­pens with teenagers is (that) they begin to have that medicine-versus-drug argu­ment,” said Andy Duran of Link­ing Efforts Against Drugs, an edu­ca­tional group based in Lake For­est. “They begin to think it’s not harm­ful or it’s not addic­tive because it’s a med­i­cine.” Teen views about the risks of mar­i­juana have been eas­ing for more than 20 years, accord­ing to the Uni­ver­sity of Michigan’s author­i­ta­tive Mon­i­tor­ing the Future study. In 1991, about 4 in 5 high school seniors believed that peo­ple put them­selves at great risk by smok­ing pot reg­u­larly. In 2012, fewer than half shared that opin­ion. Atti­tudes appear even more casual around Chicago. The Illi­nois Youth Sur­vey, which polls stu­dents about alco­hol, tobacco and drug use, found that only a third of sub­ur­ban teens and a quar­ter of those in the city believed that smok­ing pot once or twice a week brought great risk. “Already, ado­les­cents per­ceive mar­i­juana to be not harm­ful, so I don’t know that we’re in a posi­tion where they could per­ceive it to be less harm­ful,” said Pamela Rodriguez of TASC, or Treat­ment Alter­na­tives for Safe Com­mu­ni­ties, which con­nects teens com­ing from juve­nile court with drug treat­ment spe­cial­ists. She said the new mar­i­juana law might actu­ally prompt pro­duc­tive dis­cus­sions about the proper use of med­ica­tions. The abuse of pre­scrip­tion drugs is another major issue among her clien­tele, she said, and talk­ing about med­ical pot could be a way to address the risks that any med­ica­tion can pose. The Robert Crown Cen­ter for Health Edu­ca­tion in Hins­dale teaches thou­sands of chil­dren about drugs each year, and Margo Schmitt, the center’s direc­tor of edu­ca­tion and eval­u­a­tion, said its science-based pre­sen­ta­tions won’t change with the new law. “We have actu­ally been get­ting a lot of ques­tions about it, espe­cially this last spring,” Schmitt said. “Many of the kids have fam­ily in other states that have had some­thing to do with (lib­er­al­ized mar­i­juana laws), so we get a lot of ques­tions. We always answer them sci­en­tif­i­cally.” Frank Pegueros, pres­i­dent of the inter­na­tional D.A.R.E. pro­gram, based in Los Ange­les, said it has not made sub­stan­tive changes to its anti-drug lessons, taught by police offi­cers, even as states have relaxed their laws on pot. “The fact that states have legal­ized mar­i­juana for some pur­poses really calls for addi­tional pre­ven­tion edu­ca­tion … because the fact is, the greater preva­lence of the sub­stance, the more acces­si­ble it is to minors,” he said. Kate Mahoney of PEER Ser­vices, which pro­vides drug edu­ca­tion and treat­ment in Evanston and Glen­view, said teens have long pointed to the med­ical use of mar­i­juana to excuse their own pot smok­ing. Her response, she said, has been to say that she hopes they’ll never have a con­di­tion like can­cer that might jus­tify such a pre­scrip­tion. “It is really chal­leng­ing, because the truth is that most teens really do best with clear black-and-white bound­aries,” she said. “We have mud­died the waters.” Dr. Thomas Wright, chief med­ical offi­cer at the Rose­crance treat­ment cen­ter in Rock­ford, said he will try to draw par­al­lels between mar­i­juana and other legal sub­stances. “Just because it’s not ille­gal doesn’t mean it’s going to be good for you,” he said. “It’ll just join the ranks of alco­hol and tobacco — two of the dead­liest and most addic­tive drugs we have.” Source: Chicago Tri­bune (IL) Author: John Keil­man and Lisa Black, Chicago Tri­bune Reporters Pub­lished: August 4, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 Chicago Tri­bune Com­pany, LLC Web­site: http://​www​.chicagotri​bune​.com/

c0661a77c7107 wg.jpg 150x84 Anti Pot Campaigns Face New Obstacle

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Anti-Pot Cam­paigns Face New Obstacle

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