Milwaukee’s Under-Recognized Threat: Marijuana

BY: KASAUNDRA BROWN

As a kid my hardest decision of the day was generally what toy I was going to play with.  Today–day after day, time after time–I am hearing the same story: instead of which toy to play with, kids are facing the decision of whether or not to try marijuana.

Marijuana use is a growing concern that is taking its toll on American families–from the most successful families to those facing today’s greatest challenges. For many, marijuana has become or is becoming more acceptable and/or normal. Never did I expect that using drugs would become normal or acceptable behavior.

Over the past couple weeks I have had the opportunity to observe numerous alcohol and other drug (AODA) programming currently offered in several Milwaukee County youth-serving agencies.  The agencies I visited ranged in geographic location—from the south side, to the northwest side, to the inner city of Milwaukee.  While there are miles in between the agencies in these areas, they all shared a common theme: the belief among youth members that smoking marijuana is “not a big deal.” Many of the youth had been offered marijuana as early as 10 years old, and many are exposed to it daily in their family lives.

At what point did it become acceptable for a society to view any illegal drug as “safe,” to the extent that some propose legalizing the substance for recreational use?  In the case that this becomes law, who will it hurt the most?  Kids.  Who will benefit?  Big business.  Is it worth risking the chance of damaging or hindering the minds of our future: doctors, nurses, lawyers, educators, leaders?

These decisions lie in the hands of today’s adults. We are each responsible for standing up and protecting our youth.  Let them know it is not normal or acceptable for them to engage in any substance abuse. We need to let them know that we care.

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