I have long questioned the value of the drug education programs that we inflict upon kids in 5th and 6th grade. They came into wide popularity right when I began college, so I never sat through them, but all three of my children have. I am not naive enough to say, “My kid would NEVER do that!” but I think I am smart enough to suggest that having a police officer stand in front of them and offer a series of admonitions and warnings for several weeks isn’t really an education.
About two weeks ago, I had to set something up in my church hall. I realized that a class like this was taking place and tried to move quickly and quietly so as not to distract. As I moved my stuff around, I heard the officer lecturing the kids on the hazards of MEDICAL MARIJUANA. I almost shouted. Everything in me wanted to interrupt, but I held back. The gist of the message seemed to be that even people who take marijuana prescribed by a doctor have to be very careful that it does not serve as the gateway to other, equally terrible drugs. I was appalled.
This was also during a week when stories of krokodil were flooding the newspaper. Krokodil is a synthetic heroin that provides a super-high and then causes your skin to turn green, rot from the inside, and fall of of you in chunks.
I started to think how interesting, and stupid, it is, in these drug education programs, to group pot together with meth, heroin, cocaine, molly, and whatever else is out there that this old broad hasn’t heard about. We tell kids this in 5th and 6th grade, when most of them are still super gung-ho on listening to adults. Four or five years later, they get to high school, and they meet kids who drink and smoke pot. Some of those kids who party are extremely successful students, involved in their communities and in loving families. Their recreational activities really don’t seem to hinder their productivity. Kids who want to try pot will try it. Kids will find out that other kids’ parents even smoke pot, and they hold jobs and coach teams and have nice lives, too.
Herein lies the problem. They find out on their own that pot’s just NOT THAT BAD. And at that point, all the drug education info seems like crap. If we tell them pot and meth are the worst things ever, and they find out pot’s kind of chill and fun, who’s to say meth isn’t the same? And now that pot has begun to be legalized, how do we justify lumping it in with highly damaging drugs?
I should note that I’ve never been a pot smoker. Tried it a handful of times over the years and never really loved it, but it sure didn’t kill me.
Our kids deserve accurate information, maybe delivered later than the age of 10, but complete and accurate information. I think a re-think is in order.