AN HONEST DIALOGUE ABOUT MARIJUANA USE BY MINOR(S) PART 4 of 4

Marijuana use is on the rise, this is an honest dialogue about its use among young adults.

Michael: Moving back to discuss some of the physical costs and side effects of use: pretty much across the board all the medical studies conclude use of marijuana by a minor is harmful to their brains. Definitely some minors are using marijuana for stress relief and self-medication. However if a parent knows this and is aware their minor child is using marijuana then they need to make more inquiries and get a professional opinion. If their child is very depressed then they need professional intervention and possible medication. They do not need to be masking problems by using marijuana.

Andrew: It’s hard to argue against this- it doesn’t matter how brilliant someone is, when they are under the influence of marijuana they will not be able to perform as well or as quickly as when they are clear-headed. Marijuana slows you down and it affects memory, thinking, and judgment. It’s all fun and games when looked at innocently, but if you consider what a struggle it can be just to make it in the world and I am just talking making it, whether it be in school or in the job market or relationships, etc.- I’m not even getting to the point where I am discussing being successful- just making it; it begs the question: why do something to yourself that handicaps your ability to function? Is it because it’s fun? Because it makes you feel good? I don’t know about those reasons when you consider the cost. And don’t get me wrong, as I acknowledge that marijuana can be a pleasurable experience and even the smell of marijuana sometimes can bring back a rush of nostalgic memories. But knowing what you pay for that innocent fun, that’s the point. I don’ think any young person or rather it’s hard to imagine many young people have the perspective and the experience to know what sort of impact the decision to use marijuana can have on their lives.
Michael: Yet, you are advocating for their choice in whether to use marijuana- I’m not sure quite how you reconcile that. However, I also want to mention that I had case involving a juvenile client where I requested that the court allow the minor to smoke medical marijuana. This client had taken prescription medication for ADHD for many years. She got to the point where she would not take any more prescription pills. She started to smoke marijuana on an almost daily basis to cope with her ADHD symptoms. This client did continue to go to school. The client’s parents believed that their daughter’s use of marijuana was absolutely necessary as a support for going to school and staying in school. A psychiatrist wrote the court saying they could not prescribe marijuana but that in the psychiatrist’s professional opinion, the marijuana appeared to be working for the particular client. The judge did approve the use of medical marijuana for this the client.

Andrew: Again, there might be situations where marijuana would be appropriate depending on the individual’s condition. But like the decision to medicate with any substance you have to consider the costs and benefits. If you watch television and see drug commercials you will note that even commonly prescribed medications have side effects that the consumer must consider. Again you also have to ask yourself, if you are a recreational user of marijuana, why are you taking a substance probably better characterized as a medication if you are not sick? And if you are honest with yourself and recognize that you are taking marijuana to self-medicate for depression, anxiety, boredom, or what have you, then maybe it’s time to ask yourself if you are serious about addressing your particular issue and whether marijuana is the best tool for that. Unfortunately, life is short and our time finite, so really there is no time to lose in life heading the wrong direction and solidifying self-defeating patterns of behavior. I guess it all depends on what kind of life people want and what their values are- as that probably will tell you a lot about their actions or explain their actions.
Michael: I want to go on record as stating that I am opposed to parents who have minors still living at home and who openly use marijuana in the home in front of their children, as this sort of permissive behavior sends the wrong message: that it’s ok to smoke marijuana- essentially that it is without consequence.

Andrew: Parents who smoke marijuana in the home definitely send the message to minor children in the home that smoking marijuana is acceptable. I think that this potentially problematic, as it sanctions substance use. But again, it’s a value and personal judgment issue. If an adult believes that marijuana use does not pose a problem and the adult does not have a problem with the message that this sends to the minor child then that is the adult’s choice. I don’t agree with it, as I think that it is irresponsible, but I think that to some extent parents have to have the ability to make these choices. I have noticed that in some instances that stand out in my mind that children with parents or older siblings that habitually use marijuana will often notice the negative effects of marijuana use and this actually strongly encourages them not to use. Like in any situation then decision to use marijuana is impacted by the individual’s own character and values and life experience.

Michael: Well, I feel more strongly about this and think that it is a real problem for a parent to condone permissive drug use: its sets a terrible example for the child and paves the way for real problems down the road. Trying to get a minor to stop using marijuana if one of their parents possesses it at home is very difficult. Even if the parent thinks they have it properly secured and kept it away from the minor, in most cases, the minor will figure out a way to get their hands on it.
Andrew: That’s a valid point: the whole forbidden fruit being more desirable situation. Besides most parents will be away at work for much of the day or evening when a minor child has the run of the house and can more than likely find and use marijuana with relative impunity. I think that like any drug-seeking and use cycles of behavior if young and impressionable person becomes consumed in patterns of behavior that revolve around substance use then it can pose real problems. Breaking a marijuana addiction can be physically and psychologically difficult, despite the thought that marijuana is a “soft” drug. Those who become habitual marijuana users may find that walking away from using marijuana is not as easy as they hoped or anticipated. After all if you are regularly using marijuana or any substance to “solve” some sort of emotional or psychological problem you have to ask two questions: (1) how successful is marijuana in addressing the underlying problem or is it simply masking the problem; and (2) once you stop using marijuana as a coping mechanism what will it be like to confront the problem that you were using marijuana as a crutch or shield to do deal with?

Michael: Parents who do not believe that marijuana use by minors is harmful to them send the wrong message to their child. You have a limited time available to effectively parent your child so they can grow up to be healthy and wise and hopefully make their way in the world. I think, that in this highly competitive world, parents are well advised to take this responsibility seriously and do the best that they can to teach their children values that will give them the resources, physical, psychological, and emotional, that are necessary to succeed in the world. To do the opposite is in a sense a criminal dereliction of a parent’s duty to prepare their child to make it on their own.

Andrew works in house for a local business/corporation/non-profit.  We thank him very much for his valuable contribution to these articles.

 

AN HONEST DIALOGUE ABOUT MARIJUANA USE BY MINOR(S) PART 3 of 4

Marijuana use is on the rise, this is an honest dialogue about its use among young adults.

Michael: Let’s focus on some of the physical effects of marijuana use. I recall that when you used to use marijuana regularly you were not in as good a physical condition and tended not to work out.

Andrew: Very true. I used to be a soccer player before smoking marijuana and anyone who starts smoking anything, be its cigarettes or marijuana, will admit that running up and down an athletic field and trying to perform competitively at a high level becomes very difficult to sustain. This is a way in which marijuana definitely harms the body: it damages the lungs to smoke marijuana. Now this can be rationalized away by saying that the effects are short-lived and that one’s lungs can recover, etc. But it raises a very important point, which is that instead of acknowledging that one is engaging in a behavior that no matter how pleasurable is self-harming and self-destructive, one tends to push this realization out of conscious awareness so that it does not interfere with use- this is flirting with the addictive mindset where drug-seeking behavior takes precedence over life-affirming behavior.
Michael: I think this is also an example of how young people do not appreciate the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, life teaches us that we will not always be young, have good lungs, and be able to perform in life with endless reserves of energy. Not to mention the fact that their youth and health are not infinite and should be valued and cherished.

Andrew: Agreed. Marijuana use can definitely lull you into taking things for granted and it can create a mindset where you are susceptible to shading the obvious truths. I think that the French word for drugs “stupefiants” is appropriate, because marijuana, like most if not all drugs, negatively impacts mental performance and memory- making users, if not “stupid” definitely less competent. I recall smoking marijuana and trying to read casebooks in law school: and while you can do it and there were brilliant people who smoked marijuana and excelled in school, these people tended to be the exception- and it never improved my performance- in fact quite the opposite. When I was honest with myself, which was rare when I was using marijuana, I realized that smoking marijuana and trying to perform any sort of intellectual work would be like trying to run a foot race wearing ski boots: you can do it but it’s a little bit absurd and pointless from a practical standpoint. Again, the key takeaway is being honest with yourself and confronting reality, and when you are under the influence of a substance like marijuana you are no longer living in reality but an altered state of reality. Now this can be a pleasurable excursion but done enough and eventually you are no longer living in the real world and your thoughts, actions, and behaviors will all tend to deviate away from the things that you would normally seek out, value, and pursue when not under the influence. This can be particularly insidious for young people because they still do not really know who they are and what is important to them in forging a life and identity and adding something to that clouds and confuses their thinking can make finding traction and discovering a trajectory in life all the more difficult. Sometimes at a young age the most important thing is simply to feel that you fit in and belong to a group and it’s too bad if a fundamental characteristic of the group is using a substance like marijuana- not because marijuana is so bad in of itself, but because groupthink can take over a young person’s mind and they deviate away from actions that would more accurately conform with their values when they are living in the real world. Marijuana use can become an ingrained pattern and hijack the thinking of the user such that they believe that they are still in control of their lives but really the focus of their lives has become preserving access to marijuana so that it can be regularly used.

Michael: Marijuana use leads to minors associating with other minors who likewise use marijuana- part of the herd mentality that you alluded to. I see all the time how this leads to an increase in criminal activity by minors to support their drug use- often seemingly “innocent” at first; perhaps theft from family and friends, but soon escalating to more serious property crime. Depending on the crimes being committed to support their drug habit, it can also lead to juvenile court charges and school suspensions/expulsions. Basically, you are who you hang out with- for better or for worse.

Andrew: I think that you are onto something with this observation. When I look back on the time that I spent using marijuana it has the potential to socially isolate you around a group that finds the one thing they have in common is marijuana use and it also isolates you from people who choose not to use. Again, this is not to suggest that all marijuana use is unhealthy and that all people who use are unsavory thieves with no morals but it pays to be aware of the people that you are spending time with and how you are spending your time- individuals need to learn to value their time and respect themselves. Looking back on my own experience, marijuana steals time from you because it can lull you into spending time with people that are simply mutually supporting use of marijuana without anything really sustaining a relationship or friendship- basically people that you have nothing in common with and no reason to be associating with- people that are not contributing anything positive to your life. In a sense, marijuana use can promote dishonesty with ourselves because we will rationalize our behavior to deny the fact that we are engaging in self-destructive, self-defeating behavior cloaked in the guise of innocent fun. And there is the danger that the instant gratification mentality that marijuana use fosters can be lead to anti-social behaviors such as stealing to support access to marijuana. It’s all part of a cycle that is very negative and it demonstrates the way that any kind of substance use can hijack our good judgment and decision-making.

AN HONEST DIALOGUE ABOUT MARIJUANA USE BY MINOR(S) PART 2 of 4

Marijuana use is on the rise, this is an honest dialogue about its use among young adults.

Michael: There seems to be people that do alright even though they smoke marijuana but couldn’t you argue that these people would be just fine without marijuana in their lives. Maybe they would reach even greater heights and achieve even more impressive feats if they did not engage in something that seems to derail ambition and blunt motivation. Maybe we should acknowledge some of the costs associated with marijuana use. After all I think that successful, well-adjusted people tend to function well when they embrace the reality of their situation instead of trying to escape it.

Andrew: That’s a valid point. Marijuana use is definitely not without cost, which is, I suppose, my main point: that people need to be aware of the costs and acknowledge the fact that marijuana use is not without consequence and not necessarily the consequences that you might think of as a young person. First and foremost, is the problem of perspective that might influence a young person’s decision to use marijuana: most young people have not had to experience such things as poor health, responsibility, or struggling in life and do not appreciate the fact that their actions right now, in this moment, will carry consequences that impact their ability to lead the kind of lives that they aspire to lead tomorrow. Looking back at my own life I see that marijuana was a thief of time. It is very easy to succumb to the pleasure of marijuana use and lose yourself in a cloud of smoke and not wake up to reality and responsibility without considerable time passing by the wayside- time that cannot be recovered. Marijuana use and the marijuana “high” bring with it a sense of satisfaction and this can lead to complacency because if you can experience the sensation of happiness and contentment simply by smoking marijuana, then it begs the all-important question: what is driving you to seek out in life those challenges and take those risks that lead to personal growth and that really bring happiness and satisfaction. Most of the rewarding things in life require sacrifice, discipline, hard work, and sacrifice in the near term for delay of gratification- marijuana does not facilitate this mindset.

Michael: Delay of gratification is an interesting concept and something many young people don’t seem to appreciate, especially those that use marijuana.

Andrew: I think that the reason that this is the case is that we live in an instant gratification society and marijuana use in one more means that circumvents the development of the discipline and the ability to delay instant gratification in order to work towards a much bigger payoff down the road. If you read about successful people in our society, whether they succeeded in sports, business, or entertainment, these people invariably worked their tails off when other people were, by comparison, out taking it easy and enjoying to the good life. It’s rare to read about wildly successful people that will talk about formative experiences that lead to their success that involved using marijuana. That’s not to say that no successful person ever smoked a joint, but one can’t help noticing patterns. One particular pattern among successful people is that they tend to find pleasure in their passion, whether it be work, sport, or area of study. This tended to be their outlet for immersion and escape, not recreational drug use. I think that anyone who finds themselves in a position where marijuana use has become a habit needs to ask honestly why this is the case and take inventory of this pattern because unchecked it can have a profound influence on the direction of their life.

AN HONEST DIALOGUE ABOUT MARIJUANA USE BY MINOR(S) PART 1 OF 4

An honest dialogue about marijuana use by minors

Michael: An attorney for 47 years, who regularly represents minors before the juvenile courts and also represents parents accused of child endangerment, neglect and abuse in the juvenile courts. Michael is opposed to minors using marijuana.

Andrew: an attorney, and former user and adherent of marijuana. Andrew acknowledges some benefits of marijuana use and generally believes that people, including minors, should have the freedom to choose whether or not to use marijuana.

Michael: Right off the bat, I want to say that I am opposed to the use of marijuana by minors, regardless of whether it is now legal under California law and regardless of what the minor might argue about the benefits of use. Marijuana is a central nervous system depressant. I have seen to many minors in my line of work who have made a mess of their lives by using marijuana. So to ignore the obvious implications of even “experimenting: or “recreational use” would be irresponsible and reckless, in my opinion. I have worked with many minors in an effort to turn around their lives and curb self-destructive patterns of behavior. When we have succeeded in breaking a minor’s habitual marijuana use this almost always causes their grades to significantly improve, among other positive benefits. Not only that their behavior at home and at school also improves considerably. I think people would have to be foolish or irresponsible to condone marijuana use by a minor child.

Andrew: You make some very strong points that would be hard to knock down in argument. From my own experience I can say that while marijuana use has its genuine appeal, and there is certainly a pleasurable aspect to it that attracts and retains users, if one is honest they have to also acknowledge that marijuana use is not simply innocent, consequence-free fun. I am arguing for individual choice, that people be allowed the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not marijuana use is something that they want to experience and if so to what extent they want marijuana to be a part of their life. I think that it needs to be informed use, acknowledging both the costs and the benefits that come with marijuana use- basically I am a proponent of informed decision-making and personal responsibility.

Michael: That’s perhaps a reasonable position to take for mature and responsible adults but it doesn’t sit well with me in the context of minors. I don’t think that a minor has the life experience or the judgment to understand ways in which even something so seemingly “innocent” as marijuana use can dramatically impact the course of their life. Decisions made and actions taken in teenage years can really have a profound impact on the course of a young person’s life trajectory that are impossible to see at the time but will become apparent in hindsight when it is unfortunately too late to undo the damage done and opportunities lost, etc. I have seen too many examples of young people completely going off the rails in the pursuit of what they believe to be their right to indulge in marijuana use, which can be very seductive in what it promises but very cruel in the reality that it delivers. Maybe this would be a good opportunity to discuss some of the costs and benefits of marijuana use.

Andrew: Starting with the benefits, for the majority of people, marijuana use is a pleasurable and euphoric experience. I think that is what attracts many people, not to mention the image of carefree, relaxed fun. But that is not to suggest that all people enjoy marijuana, as there are certainly a number of people that are not attracted to the image of marijuana use and others that have tried it and do not enjoy the effects. I know from my experience that marijuana smoking was a big part of our culture growing up: maybe to some extent because of its slightly subversive reputation, being illegal at that time, and the fact that it was more difficult to obtain than alcohol and also because it carried a mild stigma associated with use- making it sort of forbidden fruit. As I mentioned there are obviously people who find marijuana extremely pleasurable: perhaps someone with anxiety or other unpleasant emotional state finds solace or comfort in use and the temporary escape that the marijuana “high” offers.

There are other examples of someone who uses marijuana as a means of connecting with peers, similar to how adults might get together socially and partake in a bottle of wine or a bottle of beer. I think that there is always the thought that it is a sort of bonding experience that lower inhibitions and offers a heightened, shared experience in which people let down their guard and expose their “real selves.” Whether or not this is true is debatable but is definitely a suggested in the experience. There are others who feel that marijuana heightens the experience associated with activities like listening to music, surfing, going for a hike, or even engaging in routine activities.

I had friends in college who regularly smoked marijuana before swimming or water polo practices and you wouldn’t know from looking at them or watching them perform that they were under the influence of marijuana, but for them it was extremely pleasurable, such that not having it available beforehand drained the routine activity of its expected pleasure. There are other people for whom use of marijuana enhances creativity and makes them feel more in touch with their creative side when they are making art, music, writing, etc. I know of at least one Hollywood screenwriter who uses marijuana before sitting down to write and he insists that it gets him into the right mindset to create great work that he sells for top dollar. There are very successful, well-adjusted, balanced people for whom marijuana use is a part of their life and they seem not to evidence any of the negative effects that one typically associates with regular use.

Other people that I know describe the emotional experience that marijuana provides: that it can induce intense nostalgia and transport them to places emotionally that they have not experienced in many years and they thought were lost to them. Something like this can be profoundly important to someone who is an artist and who creates, as it lends new vision and perspective to the world. Sometimes great ideas can be born of this sort of altering of perspective.

Dangerous Apps On Your Teenager’s Internet Devices

Dangerous Apps On Your Teenager's Internet Devices

If you have provided or plan to provide your teenager with a Smartphone with internet access, I encourage you to install parental controls and on all internet accessible devices, i.e. Ipads, Ipods, and computers. Parental controls are helpful but not foolproof in protecting your child from harmful conduct.

PlanetGreenRecycle.com, March 10, 2015, listed 10 Apps your teenager should not have on their internet devices. The information is from the PlanetGreenRecycle.com website.

1. SNAPCHAT – Enables members to send photos and videos to other Snapchat users. Many teenagers are using Snapchat to sext one another. They are under the impression their photo will self destruct after a certain number of seconds. Snapchat knows sexting and the transmission of sexual images by minors are being sent via their App, but it does nothing to prevent this type of behavior. Adults are also using Snapchat to transmit sexual content. There are ways a user can capture the pictures and screen shots and save them. The FBI warns about the dangers of Snapchat for minors.

2. TINDER – Statistics show that more than 450 million Tinder profiles exist. The dating App has gained a lot of fame because it gives users access to dozens of profiles. The App uses GPS location to suggest matches living nearby. Tinder also features a rating system enabling members to give a grade to the profile of others. This rating system has become associated with cyber-bullying. The GPS locator poses certain risks especially if used for the wrong purposes by a non-family member.

3. WHISPER – This anonymous community enables its members to share posts and status updates without revealing their identity. It also has a chat feature. Many kids enjoy the anonymity of Whisper, which encourages them to share secrets and sensitive information with strangers. Ill-intentioned adults can use the App to access information that will potentially compromise the safety of a minor. Revealing too much may also become a reason for cyber-bullying. “Whisper on kids’ phones could potentially give them access to pornographic content and indecent posts by others. A lot of the content focuses on sex and drug abuse, which may have a detrimental impact on a teen or teen’s development.”

4. YIK YAK – This is another anonymous, Smartphone-based community. The comments posted by YikYak users are shared with 500 people living nearby (based on GPS localization). “Fox News recently published a report written by psychiatrist Keith Ablow. According to Dr. Ablow, YikYak is the most dangerous App that has ever come in existence. Classmates can easily become members of a virtual community, sharing mean comments and malicious remarks about each other. Cyper-bullying becomes an easy, convenient, and readily available option.”

5. POOF – Poof is an App created for the sole purpose of hiding other Apps on a Smartphone. A kid can use Poof to hide Snapchat or Whisper, essentially preventing parents from ever learning about their installation on the phone. Seeing the Poof App on your child’s phone should be an instant red flag, as it indicates that your child may be trying to hide something. Perhaps you recall news of a Colorado high school where many of the senior students were distributing pornography/child pornography between themselves and hiding it on their phones on an App behind what appeared to be a calculator.

6. CHATROULETTE AND OMEGLE – “When installed on kids’ mobile phones, these Apps will enable video chat with other users. There are no filters in terms of what could be revealed during the session. Many ChatRoulette users will pose nude in front of the camera and the random nature of the App will give your child no control over the communication.” “ChatRoulette conversations can be recorded. Anything your teenager does or says may come back to haunt them in the future. This record can be posted elsewhere and popularized easily through social media. Numerous children have become victims of cyber-bullying because of the mere existence of Apps like ChatRoulette and Omegle.”

7. BLENDR – It’s main premise is anonymity. Blendr enables just about anyone to communicate with another user of the App. This is one of the main reasons why the App is quite often utilized for sexting. Another danger stems from the fact that the GPS localization enables the users to communicate with other Blendr members located nearby. Having strangers aware of your child’s physical location is certainly far from safe.

8. ASK.FM – “A popular network that is mostly used by teens, Ask.fm allows members to ask each other questions. There are no restrictions in terms of topic or language used. Ask.fm is also commonly associated with cyber-bullying. There is no editorial guidelines and none of the content gets reviewed before it is published. As a result, the amount of Ask.fm abuse has been growing rapidly. Ask.fm doesn’t enable its members to protect their privacy in any way. There are opportunities for blocking other users of the App. The blocked users, however, can still access and view content.”

9. VINE – “The App enables the creation of short videos, but many of these may have pornographic nature. According to the official terms and conditions, Vine has a 17+ restriction. However, it’s very easy for teenagers to get around the limitation. Apart from being exposed to inappropriate content, teens have the chance to upload indecent videos. Getting such content deleted from the web is an impossible task.”

10, KIK – “This is yet another free texting alternative enabling communications via text messages and images. This App can make it easy for your child to talk to strangers. Kik is supposed to come with an age restriction but taking a single look at its App Store page reveals a completely different truth. Many of the reviews (which sound like profiles on a hookup website) are written by individuals under the age of 13.”

11.  TELEGRAM – This App was not listed by PlanetGreenRecycle.  The App is very similar to Snapchat.  You send a message and the message will disappear after a certain amount of time like Snapchat.

 

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