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Youth: Solution to Misguided War on Some Drugs

Youth: Solution to Misguided War on Some Drugs

By Judith Renaud
August 4, 2011

The rise in popularity and use of Internet technology has changed the playing field in how youth give and gather information about cannabis.

While I was a teacher in our public education system for 20 years and an administrator in a First Nation school, the Internet (Facebook, Twitter, and blogs) was nonexistent a decade and a half ago. Information passed through family gatherings, parties, community events, churches, schools, and on the street. How we view ourselves has changed dramatically.

How children younger than 18 years use virtual messaging is cause for a unique opportunity to interact. It can also be a trap for those who innocently reveal personal information about themselves. Unbeknownst to them, the future has become more voyeur-driven. It is the responsibility of adults to guide young people toward a safe place. Students do not want more labels and stereotypic images bestowed upon them.

Educators for Sensible Drug Policy has a challenge ahead, and cannabis youth activists can be part of drug policy reform by virtue of their ability to connect with each other. Schools offer a small percentage of adequate information. Parents are our biggest allies. Together we can achieve the desired effect while working within the parameters of prohibition, mandatory minimums, and tough on crime agendas.

How does an active young cannabis user dealing with a world bent on victimization become empowered while still being cognizant of the fact smoking weed comes with social consequences? How do we teach the use of recreational cannabis and the benefits of medicinal cannabis? Schools won’t touch this topic. D.A.R.E. follows the rules of prohibition. EFSDP needs to find a common ground.

The pharmaceutical industry will continue to supply Ritalin and bombastically attack the use of medicinal cannabis. Our government will support and pay for misguided advertisements spending millions of dollars on “Just Say No” media blurbs rather than “Just Say Know”. The kids become more confused and smarter at the same time.

What I foresee in the future, if we are to be successful, is open and honest debate while working with young people who view the cannabis community as a safe haven from prohibitionists. A trusting relationship with any student is worth its weight in gold, and once we establish a network of young writers, critical thinkers, and creative artists we will empower those who will not be victimized by blatant propaganda and will not fill prison cells out of sheer childish ignorance. They’re too smart for that. Hopefully.

If we continue on the path of health and wellness approaches, teach that regulation not punitive measures are viable, then we have saved a young person from the clutches of outdated and unjust laws. It is never too late to learn more about such a complex issue.

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Judith Renaud is the executive director of Educators for Sensible Drug Policy.

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