The Teenage Mind

The internal experience of the young adult

The Marijuana Bill and Youth

AB 390: Better or worse for teens?

City councils are cracking down on pot dispensaries. The city of Dana Point subpoenaed the patient lists from all of its local dispensaries. This decision was upheld by the Orange County courts. Is this a violation of doctor-patient privileged communication? Is this a matter for the ACLU?

Proposition 215, The California Compassionate Use Law was designed to provide relief for extremely ill patients. However, it has resulted in liberal prescribing of 215 cards and lines of young people outside dispensaries. Any minor reporting ADHD symptoms, anxiety, or depression can obtain a 215 card.

Last week, the California State Assembly listened to hours of testimony on Assembly Bill 390 (AB 390), the Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education bill sponsored by Tom Ammiano. I just took a look at it and you can, too, at http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a13/. The bill itself is 44 pages long but what it attempts to do is "create a regulatory structure similar to that used for beer, wine and liquor, permitting taxed sales to adults while barring sales to or possession by those under 21," according to the Sacramento Bee (www.sacbee.com).

So, I am trying to anticipate how this would play out for minors. Would this make marijuana more or less available? Would this enhance its appeal? If regulated like cigarettes, would Marlboro, for example, make a huge commercial profit, put small growers out of use, and start a legal fund to fight lung cancer caused by pot? Would the FDA measure and control THC? And...finally, if marijuana becomes mainstream, will it simply become boring and lose its appeal to rebellious teens? Lots of questions and few answers. Please help me out, dear readers.

As a parent, I ask myself, "what are the dangers to teens?" And, what are the likely scenarios? If pot is still illegal to anyone under 21, how will teens get it? I think the most likely scenario is the same as beer and cigarettes. Older brothers and sisters, with IDs, will legally buy packaged marijuana cigarettes at gas stations and share them with younger ones on Friday night parties. As a parent, I ask myself, "how do I feel about this?" And... after a little thought, I actually feel better knowing my child is with trusted friends, ingesting measured substances than on a corner at night buying an illegal substance from a stranger.
How do you feel?

 

 

Jann Gumbiner, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and clinical professor at the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine.

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