Protecting Youths from Pot

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), December 26, 2013 | Go to article overview

Protecting Youths from Pot


Byline: The Register-Guard

A new federal report showing that the percentage of U.S. high school students who smoke marijuana is rising, while the use of alcohol and most other drugs is falling, should get the full attention of Oregon lawmakers who are considering a law that would allow state residents to use marijuana for recreational purposes.

The report, released last week by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, raises concerns that the relaxation of restrictions on marijuana, which can now be sold legally for medical purposes in 20 states and the District of Columbia, is encouraging use of the drug among teens. As the institute's director, Dr. Nora Volkow, told The New York Times, "The acceptance of medical marijuana in multiple states leads to the sense that if it's used for medicinal purposes, then it can't be harmful."

If legal usage of pot for medicinal purposes has helped to increase marijuana usage among teens, then it seems likely that legalization for recreational purposes could do the same, perhaps to a much greater degree.

Starting early next year, recreational marijuana use will be legal in Colorado and Washington, and other states are not far behind.

Oregon legislators voted to legalize and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries earlier this year and are considering whether to refer an up-or-down vote to Oregonians next year on whether the state should permit the recreational use of marijuana. Under a strategy favored by state Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, a "yes" vote on the 2014 measure would authorize the Legislature to draft legislation that would regulate the growth, processing, sale, taxation and use of recreational marijuana.

If state lawmakers don't put a legalization measure on next year's ballot, pro-marijuana activists have said they may do so on their own. …

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