Now That It’s Being Legalized, Proper Pot Use is Important

In a moment many parents have been dreading, the United States appears poised on the precipice of a revolution with regards to marijuana. Previously, legalization and decriminalization efforts focused on marijuana for medical purposes. Now, there’s a shift towards recreational uses, which opens a whole new can of worms. Colorado led the charge this year with full legalization, and Washington State is set to follow.

That means that marijuana for recreational use will be more readily available, which many people are arguing is a good thing from both a fiscal and policy perspective. Legalization opens the door to regulation and taxation, puts a stop to costly drug interdiction campaigns, and allows regional law enforcement to focus on enforcing more functional and sustainable drug use laws. It also, of course, creates a major culture shift, as marijuana goes from forbidden fruit to legal item, and becomes more accessible to people of all ages (despite bans on marijuana products for underage people, undoubtedly determined youth will have no trouble getting their hands on it).

This raises the important point that it’s time to talk openly about cannabis usage, and specifically to start discussing responsible use. Just as parents attempt to impart important lessons about responsible drinking to their children, it’s time to talk weed as well. Both intoxicants represent considerable risks and temptations to youth and adults alike, and in a culture where these issues are discussed openly and without stigma, some of the risk can be alleviated.

In what’s known as a harm-reduction approach, people can acknowledge that while something may cause harm, it’s still going to be used. The question in this situation isn’t how to prevent use, but how to promote sustainable and safe use. Harm-reduction is behind initiatives like needle exchanges, for example, as well as campaigns to discourage drunk driving, where the goal is to help people make smart choices about potentially dangerous activities.

In the case of marijuana, Harvard researcher Archie Brodsky and addiction specialist Stanton Peele, at the request of the Cannabis Action Network, have begun outlining guidelines for responsible cannabis use so adults can use the drug responsibly, model responsible use for youth and have a foundation for providing lessons about how to use the drug wisely. The guidelines include suggestions like ensuring that people are well informed about the risks of the drug and that they use it free of pressure, and that people maintain a healthy, balanced relationship with cannabis; if the drug begins to interfere with daily living, for example, cannabis use has clearly swung out of balance.

They also stress that cannabis is not appropriate for children, and that in some locales, use should be reconsidered. Laws regarding smoking in public places should be respected for reasons of air quality and the comfort of others, and cannabis users may also want to consider instituting rules inside their own homes about where and how cannabis should be used. The model developed by the researchers strongly recommends not only modeling good behavior, but also rewarding thoughtful cannabis use to encourage new users to develop a responsible attitude toward the drug.

As the rest of the nation looks to Colorado to see what happens next, the discussion about responsible drug use should form an important component of public discourse.

Photo credit: Melanie Tata.


Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Helga Ganguly
Helga G3 years ago

I'm waiting for the day when insurance covers pot.I went Wednesday to a dispensary for the first time. It was amazing. But very confusing. I had no idea what to get. After an hour,I made 1 small purchase. It was the wrong one. My husband picked up some cash for me and I'm going back again. I spent 2 days reading about Sativa vs. Indica. I took notes. I'm German. I feel better when things are written down. The chocolates were Sativa. There was absolutely no difference in pain at all. In fact,I believe there may have been a stiffening of the musculature.I felt a spinal crack and 2 back spasms while sitting.
I'm suspecting that edibles may not be a good choice for me. They left me nauseated.
My body is backwards. But I have to be my own Doctor in most things.

Helga Ganguly
Helga G3 years ago

As an afterthought,I asked my Dr.Last Friday to write a prescription for pot for me. He did. I take 43 pills every single day of my life-on good days.If I'm not having a good day,it may of up to 50 pills including meds for nausea and additional pain pills,muscle relaxers,asthma inhalers,nasal inhalers. I have a back brace but still can't stand for longer than 4 minutes. I bought some chewable chocolate to start small. I was told to break it into 1/8th's .I am experimenting with dosage but so far,have felt no effect whatsoever. I'm going back to the dispensary to discuss this fact with the people there. I am not looking for anything but pain relief and a return to some sort of normality .I'd love to be able to exercise or even walk into my back yard and see how the vegetables are doing.

Allana Dutchak
Allana Dutchak3 years ago

my guess is those in office already love what i lovingly refer to as "the leafy green" and said "hey if i legalize this i cant lose everything because of it". about freaking time. weed has never done me wrong. it has helped me with my sleeping disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, among other things, and all it takes is just a few tokes. so cost? considering a gram will last me 2 weeks, its still cheaper than the cigarettes i smoke. and i prefer weed to alcohol any day!

hungry, happy, sleepy... or lack of self control, dehydrate, and nasty hangover? ill take weed thanks :)

Charlene Rush
Charlene R4 years ago

Thank goodness for some common sense. Of course, the common sense only came about because our citizens have more 'common sense' than our politicians.

There are only 2 groups of people who do not wish to legalize drugs, all drugs.
1) Whose people who profit financially from them: drug cartels, pimps, corrupt police persons, private prisons, greedy bankers, and pharmaceutical corporations, to name a few.
2) Those totally foolish people who have convinced themselves that they will become more accessible. Holy mackerel, how much more accessible, can they become?

The fact is, LEGALIZING drugs, is the 'only' method of control, as we speak.
If you believe that getting any drugs, at any time, anywhere in our nation is difficult, you are extremely naïve. At any high school and even lower grade schools, kids know how and where to purchase the drug of your choice.
To be factual, your more wealthy neighborhoods are the most proficient purchasers, because the cost is not an issue.

For me to say, that Americans have to start facing reality, is an absurd idea, since, we have so many so-called educated people, who don't believe in evolution and climate change, just for starters. Other countries are shaking their heads and laughing at us and wonder what's in our drinking water.
(Now, that's another subject, altogether.)

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W4 years ago

I must be a lot more unique than I thought. Geez - I've started smoking it regularly when I was 16. I was a weird, hyper, nervous, Badly-bullied teen. I started in the summer. Suddenly, I had friends for the first time in my life. Then, when my junior year started, I finally got involved in school activities like the poetry mag, choral singing and drama club. My grade point average, which was 2.6 went up to a 4.0 and I maintained that through my senior year when I came in second in a national essay contest. My relationship with my family improved too.
Later, I tried to go away from pot and ended up on the alphabet road of anti-depressants. anti-anxiety drugs and anti-psychotic cocktails. After 3 yrs of that BS, I went back to smoking pot. I haven't had many problems since. For me, it was a life-saver in school and in my adult life. Going on 40 yrs. of smoking now and read, study and write more than ever.
No one has ever given me a good reason to stop and I've never had an undesirable side effect.

Trina Hawkins
Trina H4 years ago

People are going to smoke this weather it's legal or not ! So now that's it's LEGAL ,the people who use it for pain control,and it works,won't have to worry about getting locked up ! Ohhhh the $$$$$$ the state will make off this ,it's scary ! I'm sure they will Jack the price up just for the increase on Taxes ! But that's how it works ! I personally don't like the Smell of the smoke,so I will Eat the goodies derived from the oil,better then all the medicine I take every day ! People just need to be Responsible in what they do and make sure little kids can't get ahold of it ! As for teens who smoke this,they will always get it from someone ,no matter what ! Legal or Not it has always been around and always will be !

Vivianne Mosca-Clark
Vivianne M4 years ago

The comments are strange.....a lot of miss information

kathrynelizabet Etier

Looking at the taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, does anyone seriously think we common folk are going to be lighting up all that much? The only way us "common folk" will be able to enjoy legalized marijuana is if we grow our own. And don't you think that the "manufacturers" will top their priority list with getting legislation passed that would ban home-grown? You see how well moonshiners have been tolerated.

Marianne C.
Marianne C4 years ago

@ Tanya S:

In some people, marijuana does produce psychotic episodes. I would define my ex-husband's "events" as psychotic breaks.

Several large prospective studies during the 90s that followed a group of subjects and recorded behavioral changes over time, showed a relationship between marijuana use and later development of psychosis. Marijuana use also worsens the course of illness in patients with schizophrenia, and can produce a brief psychotic reactions in some users that fades as the drug wears off.

The amount of pot being used, the user’s age at first use, and genetic vulnerability can all influence effect. One example is a study that found an increased risk of psychotic episodes among adults who had used marijuana in adolescence and who also carried a specific variant of the gene for catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), an enzyme that degrades neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. The Dolt was probably one of them – he always claimed he had some kind of chemical imbalance.

A more recent study followed people from age 13 to 38 and found that those who used marijuana a lot in their teens and continued use it into adulthood had a significant drop in IQ, even if they quit. The Dolt is also one of those.

I know it's difficult for people in pain, who can't manage it with meds, but killing pain is not one of pot's stronger points. It dulls your perception, not the actual pain.

Nobody should use pot thinking that because it's "natur