Is Marijuana ‘easier to obtain’ for teens in legal cannabis states?
A recent USA Today article spoke about the “prevalence” of vaping THC in High School. According to the article, “Not only does legalization make products more readily available, it also sends the message that marijuana does not have the same risks as other drugs or even tobacco.”
However, is that true? You can look at statistics and make your own conclusions, however if we follow the logic of the statement, shouldn’t legal cannabis make it harder for ‘youths’ to get their hands on the product?
Legal VS Illegal
It’s safe to say that teens are getting their weed-related products from the black market. Some might get it from their homes, however if we’re talking about kids buying vaping devices and THC oil, in the vast majority of the cases it will come from a black market player.
Pre-legalization, all cannabis came from the black market. Adults then created the legal framework to purchase cannabis, and cannabis-related products without the fear of losing their freedom. One of the “rules” of this legal framework is “DON’T SELL TO KIDS”.
In Oregon, a few years ago the state tried to test whether dispensaries are selling to people underage. They found that virtually all of them refused to do so. There was an instance of a few dispensary workers who were willing to cross this threshold, however the owners quickly got rid of them.
In most cases, dispensaries were compliant with the laws. Meaning, under the legal framework, it’s nearly impossible for kids to get their hands on the product via a dispensary.
This doesn’t mean that the black market ceased to exist. A lot of money is in the weed market, and black market players don’t have a problem to sell to kids. They have been doing it since forever.
The black market can be divided into two different categories.
- Bad Players
- Organized Crime
The first category relates to people who are legally purchasing cannabis items, and reselling them on the black market to people who can’t legally access it. This includes teens and everything in between. Usually, these “bad players” are young themselves, but old enough to get access to the legal market.
The second category relates to the people who actively make a revenue stream in the black market. Typically, they have roots to cartels or gangs and work in “territories”. These folks also have zero qualms about selling cannabis products to kids.
How to Solve the Problem?
Drug laws aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If someone is caught selling to kids, they should receive a steep punishment. People are only against sending someone to prison for possession, use, and cultivation. They don’t have a problem with sending someone to prison who is selling to kids.
The legal market isn’t the problem. It’s been established that dispensaries do not want to break the law, because they want to keep on selling cannabis. The risk is simply too big for them to take.
Thus, if there are people that are actively selling to kids, (bad players or cartel), give them the maximum punishment. However, even here, there is a fine line to walk.
What happens when it’s a kid selling to a kid? Do we ruin the life of one child to save another? What happens when it’s someone who were negligent with their products at home, and the kid stole it?
It’s not an easy debate. Nonetheless, there needs to be consequences for this action.
Aren’t you being a hypocrite?
People who have read my material know that I have been smoking weed since I was 13 years old. I enjoyed every minute of my teen years getting baked and going on epic adventures. However, now, after more than 20 years of smoking, I have changed my attitude about teen drug consumption.
I understand that your teen years are critical for establishing your identity, to know your own limits and strengths. It’s a vital time in a person’s life. It’s a time where sobriety is the best approach. Keeping your mind clear and focused on making good decisions. Additionally, your brain is still undergoing a lot of changes, your endocannabinoid system is still forming and intervening with this process, unless it’s a medical necessity, should not be encouraged.
The fact that I did something when I was young, doesn’t make it the best approach to life. I fortunately managed to make it through those years relatively unaffected by my consumption choices, however, I can’t say the same or many others I met along the way.
During the formative years, people need guidance. One of the reason why kids are smoking weed and dropping tabs is because of the general lack of guidance during those formative years. Instead of trying to “make them stop doing drugs”, perhaps we should start looking at “how can we mentor these bright, questioning minds to becoming the best versions of who they can be?”
I know for certain that if I had more of that when I was ripping bongs in my teens, I might have not smoked as much as I did. I might not have wandered aimlessly for years trying to decipher my purpose in life.
Despite all of this, it’s important to understand that “legal” doesn’t mean “more accessible”. Legal cannabis doesn’t make it more available, the conversation is far more nuanced than that.