Pubdate: Wed, 12 Jan 2005
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Harvey Davey


Re: Marijuana easier to get at school than cigarettes, teens say, Jan. 10.

Teens have been telling researchers for more than a decade that more
of them try marijuana than try tobacco, and that it is easier to get
pot than cigarettes. The Citizen reports these facts every two years
when the Ontario Student Drug Use Survey is released by the Centre for
Addictions and Mental Health.

A much more helpful headline would have been: "Teens don't understand
the health reasons why they should stop smoking." Fewer would take up
tobacco if they did understand -- thanks to strict regulation and
high-profile campaigns about its dangers.

If the statistics and focus groups prove anything, it is that
criminalization is less effective than education. If the resources
spent to prohibit pot use were redirected to educate and regulate,
fewer teens would experiment because they would understand the risk.

I hope the Health Canada booklet for parents will do more than
identify signs that a child is smoking marijuana. It should tell
parents not to panic, how to respond and how to get help if they need

Harvey Davey,

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