Friday, June 27, 2014

My struggle with cannabis!

I bet that header got some of you who know me well wondering if you had me all wrong. OK---it was just to get your attention, so now I shall describe the 'battle within', in terms that reflect my real thoughts, garnered over many years as a school counsellor.
Ask any teacher what the effects on learning are for young people who do more than 'dabble' in the world of cannabis (and other substances) and how their lives can take a turn from which they never fully recover. Ask any 'long-term user' of cannabis if they would have taken the same pathway if they could 'go back.' I expect to see some strong denials to my postulations, and I think I know from whence they will come!
My thoughts are driven primarily for the young people who I work with. I am not going to worry about the arguments you old buggers use, expressing your freedom of choice and all the arguments that go along with the 'medical use of this possibly useful drug.' As far as I am concerned, you have made your bed, so go sleep in it and yes, I want to see the use of cannabis re medical reasons legalised, researched and acted upon.
Having said that, I am sure the befuddled minds of those wishing nothing more than to be able to wile away their days, sucking on some lovingly rolled  joint, and complaining that they can't get work because of some 'dastardly cruel employment rules that curtail one's right to work in jobs that require clear herds.' Deal with it dudes! Yes, I include any 'substance' re the former statement.
My concern is always going to be for the young people and how the legalization of cannabis will affect them. The situation in any school is such that at any one time, you can take it as fact that there will be significant numbers of students who are attending class in a 'stoned' state. Sure, for some of them, it may not cause problems to the learning of others, especially if they are in that 'zoned out' state of equilibrium that is more one of 'quiet contemplation,' rather than the buzzy problematic place that does challenge the learning environment.
These students in the problematic state, 'steal' the educational chances for other students, taking unnecessarily from the efforts of already hard-pressed teachers, to instil something that looks like 'learning' for teenagers. That is the teachers job---to help kids to learn and anything that takes away form this task is problematic for the future of our young people----and the nation.
There is little doubt that students who use cannabis regularly (and some would say intermittedly) figure far more highly in the makeup of those who drop out of school or who leave with few qualifications. I know there are exceptions to that statement and hopefully those of you who say that 'I'm just fine---nothing about cannabis use has affected me'---you should have stopped reading this by now and gone and had another joint!)
There is also a great deal of research that points to the links between young people using cannabis and impaired mental health; some to the degree that their useful lives re the workforce an d other life opportunities, is effectively damaged to the point that they become disconnected to society and economically disadvantaged, to say nothing of the possibility of becoming part of a darker world that involves crime. Of course I am not saying that to take 'dope' is propelling young people into an 'underworld!' Well-----maybe not, but possibly, YES.
My argument is based around the premise that the teenage years are critical in the development of all aspect of a person's life and that many of the 'things they do,' can influence the subsequent direction of their lives. That is a taken. For those who succumb to any substance, particularly cannabis, but also the 'newbies' on the block, plus the ones that have existed for generations, there are going to be problems. Most of us find a 'balance,' but for some, this period is a time of danger. Yes, we have to mitigate against this danger, even if that treads on the 'aspirations to express freedom,' for those us, well and truly beyond our teenage years. Lets have that freedom, but please----put in some real effort to nurture our precious young people---our future!
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