Sometimes when we share articles here, it’s to point out how useless the media can be. Here’s a wonderful little example. The LA Times, owned by the Tribune company of Chicago (the same people responsible for taking all the funny out of Family Guy on WGN), have published data from the 2011 Monitoring the Future survey.
The survey, conducted by a group at the University of Michigan, presents the narrative that alcohol and tobacco use have declines in teens, but because of the proliferation of the medical marijuana industry there has been a slight rise in use of marijuana among teens.
Let’s peek at the data
The new survey, which polls 47,000 students nationwide in the eighth, 10th and 12th grades, found annual marijuana use — defined as using marijuana at any time within the last year — rose slightly in 2011, to 25% in all three grades combined. However, that’s a sizable increase from the 2007 rate of 21.4%. - LA Times
First of all, a 3.6% rise in three years is hardly significant. Look, it’s not good, I’ll grant that. We’ve said before on the show that kids, specifically, shouldn’t be exposed to drugs because the developing brain chemistry is a very delicate process. Drugs screw with that. Whether it’s marijuana or Aderall or Ritalin. Drugs should be a measure of last resort, but as most of us know they’re used as an easy patch for behavioral issues or lazy parenting.
Use of prescription drugs without medical supervision remains a concern. In 2011, 22% of high school seniors said they had misused at least one prescription drug — the same rate recorded in the 2007 survey. - LA Times
I bolded what’s important. 22% of teens say they abuse prescription drugs. According to the CDC website 9.5% of kids age 4-17, an approximate 5.4 million kids, have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
Look, teaching kids about drugs and drug use is a difficult thing. It’s even harder when we send them mixed signals like giving 10% of them amphetamine without telling them what it does aside from “help them pay attention”. That’s the only explanation I was given when first getting prescribed Ritalin at the age of 8.
But this article defines “marijuana abuse” as “having used marijuana at any time in the last year”. In light of this let’s fix the number associated with “prescription drug abuse” to include “casual users” a.k.a. people who have legitimate prescriptions for the medications. Wow. We find that the number inflates to a 32% rate of prescription drug use. See what happens when you make the definitions of things more broad?
Daily or near-daily use of marijuana also rose among teens of all ages with 6.6% of the oldest students saying this was their practice. That is the highest rate since 1981.
“Put another way, one in every 15 high school seniors today is smoking pot on a daily or near-daily basis,” Johnston said. - LA Times
Now, this is pretty out there. But again, look how this is framed. The article cites that the senior and therefore oldest student range applicable to the data had adopted a practice of smoking once a day. Isn’t that interesting?
Firstly, there’s nothing wrong with using marijuana once a day. Most medications require daily if not twice daily doses. Let’s assume some of these “high school seniors” are 18, or nearing 18, which means that they would fall under the age restriction for most state medical marijuana laws. If someone is 18 and suffering from something that marijuana relieves then they should be able to persue that medical treatment option.
Now, a lot of people make a big deal about “people who shouldn’t be on a medical marijuana program and just use it to skirt the law”, which may be true in some instances. But who am I, or you for that matter, to pass judgement on anyone’s ailments? Treatment options shouldn’t come with discrimination, right? Well, already banks won’t grant services to dispencaries in some areas, law enforcement has continued to muddle and mishandle the issue and the fact that exactly 0 health insurance companies will co-pay your medication: we’ve got a lot working against us. Does that mean we should curb the growth of a legitimate industry? No.
Now, before we wrap up, let’s just take a second here and consider the source. This study was sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The same people that told you that:
In Wisconsin, marijuana overdose visits in emergency rooms equal to heroin or morphine [sic], twice as common as Valium. - Wikipedia
But they’re also the same people that funded John W. Huffman's work of synthesizing cannabinoids. These synthesized cannabinoids are available all over the world in various forms. Specifically, the line of substances known as JWH or sometimes called “J-Who”. This substance is used in shit like K2 and Spice which has been recently reclassified as a schedule 1 drug. Interestingly enough, our NIDA backed survey questioned teens about their use of the substance.
For the first time this year, researchers asked 12th grade students about synthetic marijuana. The finding — 11% of all high school seniors had tried the substance — surprised researchers.
They should be surprised. But would they be even more surprised if they learned that the people paying them for their research were also responsible for the research and eventual proliferation of those very substances? Moreover, isn’t it concerning that more and more stories of overdoses on K2/Spice are being reported from all over the country. That the list of side effects associated with K2 use include seizures, vomiting and psychotic episodes? Or that test subjects showed signs of addiction and withdraw after consuming just 3 grams a day for several months.
Pretty bad, right? Until you remember that marijuana does none of those things. It’s not physically addictive, there’s never been a documented overdose and, if taxed, could breathe some life back into our stagnant economy. But no, we get “medical marijuana shops help kids get high”. We don’t need synthesized alternatives for plants. The only thing a synthesized alternative does is ensure that the supplier of the synthetic can continue to control the supply. Look at Aderall: The FDA controls how much Aderall is produced each year. In 2003 the rate of ADHD in children was somewhere near 3-5%, so we’ve seen a significant rise in documented diagnosed ADHD cases. The number of consumers goes up every year with more and more kids being put on the drug and stay on the drug through their adulthood. Some kids (now adults) never stop taking their ADHD meds. Now we see the co-pay price of Aderall skyrocket from $30.00 to $90.00. Do you see where I’m going with this?
The bottom line is, as always, profit. That’s why, from the point of view of the NIDA, a synthetic alternative to cannabis is OK to pour research money into while at the same time discouraging drug use. So, the message becomes “it’s not OK to do some drugs (IE. the ones in which we, the makers, can control the supply of), but these other drugs…you can’t have those…not because it’s bad for you, our drugs can actually kill you while the natural stuff will just make you happy…..but you can’t have that one….just….because”. That’s not…confusing, is it? That’s the information landscape our kids have to navigate.
What I find confusing is nobody ever says “Gee, I wonder what would happen if the NIDA took the money from the JWH research and, I don’t know, helped fund some rehab centers?”
Instead, now we have spice.
(edited for grammar and clarity)