March 20, 2012

Presenting Cannabis Issues to American Youths: Talking Points

Baobab: Tree of Generations, South Africa
"The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next." Abraham Lincoln
Recently, I was asked to give talking points for a high school presentation about Cannabis. This question was difficult and yet so important, I took my best stab at it. I thought it may help others organize their thoughts and presentations, so I am posting my notes here.

Marijuana Legalization talking points for High School Students:

When speaking with high school students, I always take a moment to look at the World from their perspective. Their World is a very dark place, their options are bleak when considering their future. These kids want to know truth and have no time for anything less. Here is an article from the NORML Women's Alliance touching on this issue. Drug Education should reflect reality not deny it.

Not one person I have met wants to be presented with anything less than the full truth. There are so many inconsistencies in what is happening in the World and the information being reported. People today are developing stronger individual media filters and figuring out their own truths. Many are following the money closely to unravel economic breakdowns and corruption, others are working to restore constitutional rights.

Constitutional Law and The New Jim Crow, a book by Michelle Alexander

It's very important to me, kids understand what has happened in the War on Drugs on a legal and constitutional level. First, when a citizen of the United States is convicted of a felony, that individual is stripped of their right to vote or participate in any political processes what so ever, be it local, State or National politics. The New Jim Crow points out the number of non-violent drug offenders serving time in Federal prisons and shows how these United States Citizens are no longer allowed to vote, get credit, buy houses or get normal jobs. Their very livelihoods have been stolen from them and recovery is near to impossible in their minds. Consider also the prison system has been privatized and is run by a corporation with shareholders ultimately pushing for a higher payout on their dividend returns. The United States Government pays these corporations a per diem rate per prisoner.

Constitutionally, Marijuana is important because it is the most stark example of government stripping a citizen's inalienable rights slowly over a period of time. For instance, medical marijuana patients are not able to get a gun, are not protected from job discrimination and are giving up their rights to proper search and seizure and due process just by presenting cannabis patient identification. Already, police raids happen on private residences where neighbors smell it. These arrests are very similar to a home invasion where armed men commit violent acts against another human being and then steal their property, cause bodily harm or worse.

All of these States who have managed to get voter approved initiatives written into regulation are doing so based on the individual State's constitutionally protected right to govern themselves outside of interference of the Federal Government. For more information on State Laws and Initiatives visit NORML's Medical Marijuana StateLaws Page.

The next issue broken down would be what does legalization really mean? I did a whole piece on the differences between legalization, decriminalization and regulation here: Medical Marijuana Laws 101 The article is meant to be a crash course in the basics.

The Science of Cannabis

Every human being out there has an Endo-Cannabinoid system, a neurological receptor system for Cannabinoids. When the Cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBN) connects with CB1 and CB2 receptors, messages are sent to nerve systems to either speed up or slow down whatever process needs work, thereby making it medicine. That is the good news for teenagers. The bad news - this receptor system is officially under construction until around 25 years of age. Inundating these delicate chemical receptors while in their development stages could lesson the effectiveness of cannabis as a medicine when it is needed later in life.

The Economics of Cannabis

The Cannabis Industry has created more jobs in the past 10 years than any other industry sector out there in United States markets. As this budding industry expands, it will change the way people think about medicine. Unlike pharmaceutical pills received with specific dosage instructions, a patient has to create an individual relationship directly with the plant itself. Cultivating individual plant / patient relationships will expand an already healthy activist movement in spite of federal efforts to continue prohibition.

Industrial Hemp (the other cannabis cousin) would save millions of family farms all over the country. Industrial hemp products used as a source for fuel and energy would create enough sustainable business in the country to stabilize our markets. Very little would have to be done to change old manufacturing factories into hemp processing plants. America could be the leading producer of hemp textile products, building materials and diesel engine oil for transportation re-emerging in global commodity markets with a more sustainable gross domestic products than the war machine products America pimps out today.

For kids today, options for creating a sustainable livelihood strategy are limited to 1. Join the Military 2. Join a Street Gang 3. Prison 4. Working for less than what they are worth in non sustainable business sectors. It's important these kids understand what is happening in their World, so they are able to co creatively design better options for their generation and those to come. Cannabis offers solutions for the future.

Debunking the Gateway Drug Theory

Marijuana as a gateway drug has been used for a long time as a way to keep the general public fearful enough to maintain prohibition. The fact of the matter is drug use can be attributed to many factors no matter the order in which the individual chose to take any drugs: environment, influence and addictive personality traits.

Here is an example of a study done in Pittsburgh on the issue. Marijuana is no gateway drug article Here is a CBS news report quoted as saying: "There seems to be this idea that we can prevent later drug problems by making sure kids never smoke pot," lead researcher Dr. Karen Van Gundy, associate professor of sociology at the university, told CBS News. "But whether marijuana smokers go on to use other illicit drugs depends more on social factors like being exposed to stress and being unemployed - not so much whether they smoked a joint in the eighth grade." University of New Hampshire study It seems the only way to keep kids off drugs is wrapped up in having strong role models, ample opportunity for spiritual growth and a comfortable environment.

Pharmaceutical use in America poses another aspect to this paradigm many choose to ignore. When a person addicted to opiates (ie: morphine, vikadin) is no longer able to obtain a prescription, they often turn to black market heroin. Doesn't that make opiates a gateway drug to heroin? Check out these statistics on pharma use in America: Project America: Pharmaceutical use statistics What cracks me up about giving these numbers to teenagers is the column describing the adults telling you marijuana is a gateway drug. 64.1% of Americans aged 45 - 64 are using prescription medications. These are the same people perpetuating the gateway drug facade.

Here is some more ammo to debunk the Gateway Theory conversation. Many people who are addicted to hard drugs like meth are using Marijuana to help them end the habit. Here is an article on the subject: Cannabis used to help meth addicts I have personally helped patients ween themselves off opiates with Cannabis medicines. I guess that makes Cannabis a gateway to recovery and good health.

In conclusion, adults should not be talking "to" their teenagers about Cannabis, but exploring the new science together. So much has been discovered about Cannabis and its relationship with human bodies since the movie Reefer Madness affected a generation's perception decades ago. Many adults are learning the Truth about Cannabis just as their children are exploring the issue. Making those discoveries together strengthens the parent child relationship in surprising and effective ways which produce long term benefits.

Kids should be encouraged to find their inner entrepreneurial spirit and cultivate their ideas. The current state of the economy dictates small businesses will be the only sustainable livelihood strategy for the future. The good old days of getting a college degree to work for the big corporations have passed this generation. Security comes when they find their inner light and follow its lead.

Please send me your thoughts, ideas and experiences presenting information to the youth via email at Comments are welcome and appreciated just below the post.