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.

 

NUDE SELFIE WITH A MINOR NETS A 15-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE

Nude selfie with a Minor will get you a prison sentence. Learn to keep yourself safe.

The United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, 2017, upheld a 15-year prison sentence for a 45-year-old man who took nude selfies with a cell phone with a consenting 16-year-old female in the State of Washington. The girl knew and consented to the nude photos being taken with her cell phone. The selfies depicted full frontal nudity and other pornographic poses with the man and girl.

In the State of Washington a 16 year-old is legally able to give consent to a sexual relationship. A second and separate Washington statute makes a man guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor if the person aids, invites, employs, authorizes, or causes a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct. The age of majority is 18 in Washington unless emancipated or legally married. Thus the man was found guilty in Federal Court of 18 U.S.C. section 2251(a) and (e), production of child pornography. He also was convicted of possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2252A(a) (5) (B) and (b) (2). The court set forth, “The fact that the sexual relationship was legal under Washington law did not legitimize the production and possession of child pornography under the state or federal law. ” The court sentenced the man to a prison sentence of 15 years for the production charge and 10 years prison for the possession of child pornography. The court found federal jurisdiction because the cell phones used, the laptop the photos were transferred to, and the digital camera used all contained parts made in other countries.

To prove a conviction for production of child pornography the government was required to prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) the girl was a minor; that is, someone under 18; (2) the defendant employed, used, persuaded, induced, enticed or coerced to the girl to take part in the sexually explicit conduct, and (3) that visual depiction was produced using materials that had been transported in interstate or foreign commerce. The court found the defendant had told the minor they looked good together when taking the selfies and that he wanted to take nude pictures of them. There was no evidence the defendant distributed, transferred the photos, or displayed them to others.

The government’s theory of the prosecution and arguments made would apply to prosecutions of anyone, adults or juveniles, snapping a photo showing consenting individuals, if one is a minor, engaged in intimacy and storing the photos on a cell phone, laptop, or camera that contains some parts that were made in other countries or across state lines.

FATHER LOSES CUSTODY OVER UNSECURED, LOADED FIREARM

Father loses custody over unsecured loaded firearm

In a recently published decision, January 24, 2017, a Court of Appeal in California upheld a father losing custody of his children in a juvenile court dependency case (Child Protective Service case). His children were a 4-year old girl and a 6-month old boy. The father was a licensed security guard who had a permit to carry an exposed firearm. He had been unemployed for several years and was the children’s primary caretaker. The father stored a loaded 9-millimeter semi-automatic handgun with extra magazines and loose ammunition in a closet between the kitchen and the bedrooms. The gun was in a black nylon bag on the third shelf from the bottom about four feet up from the ground. It was accessible to his children.

The father was under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). He was observed leaving his house. His truck was stopped and the DEA found three pounds of crystal methamphetamine in the truck. During questioning, the father told the police about his loaded firearm in the hall closet. The police found the gun and notified Child Protective Services of the father’s endangering his children by leaving a loaded firearm in a location accessible to his children. A dependency petition was filed in Juvenile Court to remove custody of the children from their father. The court had no problem with finding that a young child with access to a loaded gun is at substantial risk of serious physical harm. The court’s research did not find any published cases in California on this issue, but did find a number of published decision from other states (New York, Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia) which also removed children from their parent(s) due to leaving a loaded firearm accessible to children. The court did cite a California case which found that leaving drugs in a location accessible to their children exposed the children to substantial risk of serious physical harm. It manifested a “gross lack of attention to the child’s welfare.”

The court referred to cases from the New York courts which found a parent endangers a child by leaving a firearm within reach of a child. In one of the cases cited the mother left a loaded gun on a bed accessible to her 3-year-old son and next to her 5-month-old daughter who was in a crib, thereby creating an imminent danger that their physical, mental, and emotional health would be harmed. In another published decision, the New York Appellate courts upheld a finding of parental neglect where the parent was storing illegal guns in the home where the children had access to them. In a third case, the court found parental neglect where the father kept “a loaded semi-automatic gun in a plastic bin near where the child slept.”

Please review my prior blog where a father negligently stored a loaded revolver in the garage. His children and a neighbor boy found the loaded handgun while playing in the garage. The neighbor boy was shot and killed. The father was criminally prosecuted for child endangerment. He received a sentence of 4 years in prison. A New Jersey father received a 3-year prison sentence for negligent storage of a firearm. He kept an unlocked, loaded .22 caliber rifle in his bedroom. His 4-year-old son found the rifle, took it outside, and shot his 6-year-old friend in the head. The child died the next day.
I cannot stress enough that both parents have a duty to protect their children and not expose them to substantial risks to their safety and/or emotional well being. It is not sufficient for either parent to say it is not my gun and that the other parent is responsible for it. Make sure any guns in the home are kept in a locked, secure gun safe and your children cannot gain access to them without parental supervision.

 

Page 1 of 2212345...1020...Last »