Letters + Opinion » The Week in Weed

Teenage Wasteland



A growing number of studies indicate that marijuana is, like, really bad for the developing teenage brain, according to a recent NPR report. At a point when the brain is streamlining — honing its ability to think critically, make judgments and remember stuff — marijuana use is hindering development. This is not just problematic for grades and other short-term outcomes. One study out of New Zealand indicates that marijuana users lost up to eight IQ points in their transition to adulthood and struggled with memory and decision making more than non-users.

Of course, as NPR reports, there's a question about whether drug use precipitates "cognitive functioning differences."

"It's very possible that there's something very different to begin with among teenagers who tend to get into trouble with marijuana or who become heavy users," said Columbia University drug abuse researcher Gregory Tau.

Are you one of the pot acolytes reeling from the decidedly ungroovy characterization thrust upon you by old fogey Jerry Brown? Yeah, he just called you a pothead.

In a "Meet the Press" interview last weekend, the California governor expressed skepticism at further legalizing pot in the state, asking, "How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?" He then answers his own question: "The world's pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together."

Shocked? Look, just 'cuz he dated Linda Rondstadt doesn't mean he's not square. Recall that he was the man when they were romantic, too, and despite having "fun for a lot of years," Rondstadt recalled, he was "not interested in drinking or drugs, and lived his life carefully, with a great deal of discipline."

Clear your calendar for the loftiest of public formats, the oratory. There's a small bevy of weed talks coming up this week, if you're in the mood for a forum, lecture or discussion. Not the most thrilling of formats, but often informative and good for sparking debate.

Among those is the "Environmental Cannabis Forum," sponsored by the Mateel Community Center and organized by Eureka attorney Kathleen Bryson, who told the Lost Coast Outpost that she was previously "on the fence regarding cannabis legalization" because she feared it would harm Humboldt's economy. It stands to reason, after all, that the bottom line of one's criminal defense business would be severely hampered by the disappearance of one of the county's most common crimes. Sure, pot biz dollars worm their way into just about every Humboldt resident's salary one way or another, but few so directly and robustly as a defense attorney's, one would guess.

The LoCO writeup makes it sound as though Bryson's had a change of heart, but topics of the upcoming event — which features Emerald Cup founder Tim Blake and enviros Scott Greacen and Gary Graham Hughes — don't exactly include legalization. In fact, the calls for "drinkable water, clean air and healthy wildlife" imply increased regulations on weed grows. Still, putting aside her own pecuniary interests, Bryson is sort of backhandedly championing legalization. "You cannot regulate something that is illegal and underground," she told LoCO. Head to the Mateel Community Center on March 8 at 11 a.m. for the (presumably free?) forum. LoCO's SoHum correspondent Kym Kemp will be talking about "the media's portrayal of growers and the environment," too.

On March 11, the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research continues its comprehensive speaker series with thoughts (spoken aloud) from Nathan Donohoe of LA's Cannabis Consulting Group, which advises communities on medical marijuana regulations and entrepreneurship. That's for free at 5:30 p.m. in HSU's Native American Forum.

On Wednesday the 12th, the local chapter of the Audubon Society will work to finalize its statement on weed cultivation as it affects wildlife.

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