I just watched a program on MSNBC where they discussed new entrepreneurs who are hoping to make a fortune since California legalized recreational use of marijuana. One person developed a marijuana delivery APP. One of the delivery drivers was a man who quit his job as a delivery person for UPS believing he could make more money delivering marijuana. Another entrepreneur opened a weed restaurant where marijuana is used as a main ingredient in each recipe. The MSNBC host visited a marijuana spa and listened to a customer say she enjoyed "the sensation" of being massaged by an oil which contained marijuana.
In the book the Culture of Addiction and the Culture of Recovery, historian William White, MA describes how drugs go through a cycle from Socially Celebrated (the most approval by society, an example would be expensive alcohol), Socially Tolerated (use is accepted under certain circumstances, an example would be Medical Marijuana), and Socially Prohibited (use of these drugs carry the most stigma and legal consequences, examples include heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines). In the book White points out that in the early 1900's heroin was a socially celebrated drug which dropped to prohibited status as the children of the affluent were dying of overdose deaths (notice how history has repeated itself today). Cigarettes shifted from celebrated to tolerated as it was linked to cancer. Recreational use of marijuana is shifting from a prohibited drug to a celebrated drug as more and more states move towards legalization. What impact will this increased status have on adolescent marijuana use nationwide?
For adolescent African Americans the number one drug of choice is marijuana. In groups I lead they routinely rationalize their use with statements such as, "Marijuana is not addictive. God produced it and everything God produces is good. How could it be bad for you, it grows naturally in the ground? How could it be bad for you? It’s legal?"
My response to these youth has been to introduce science. I tell them that research indicated that 90% of people who drink alcohol or use other drugs do so without becoming addicted to the drug. Approximately 10% of users of any drug including marijuana develop addiction. I tell them that those most vulnerable to addiction are individuals with: family histories of addiction; early age of first use; have histories of childhood trauma etc. (100% of teens I work with). We also discuss the research which describes the link between early marijuana use, psychosis and learning challenges. This info is always received well. I encourage you the reader to think about how you will respond when teens ask you, "How can marijuana be addicting? It’s legal."