Unwatched Pot: Do we know enough about marijuana?

Image courtesy of WBUR, a Boston NPR Station

I’ve been thinking about marijuana since my home state of Michigan legalized its use in November. I read Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in the January 14, 2019 issue of New Yorker.

I am ambivalent about legalizing it. The state criminal justice system spends a lot of money prosecuting marijuana crimes, mostly for possession arrests. The majority of people arrested are poor African Americans. After listening to Season 3 of Serial on the impact of the criminal justice system on the poor of Cleveland, Ohio, I feel it is a good idea to eliminate marijuana as a crime, especially with the poor. I think it is good that this is no longer the case and hopefully the government will treat it as a health issue and not a crime.

I am concerned, however, that with the legalization, that more people will be using marijuana. 10 US states have legalized recreational use and there are only three states that prohibit any use. I think that is the last thing Michigan, and America needs. A drug that anecdotally encourages people to be less active, eat more and decrease motivation, will not be good for a country already suffering from this.

Gladwell points out that there are not any long-term, large studies on the effects of marijuana use. Some studies show marijuana use increases incidents of mental illness, especially schizophrenia and perhaps even violent behavior. I know this sounds like the 1936 documentary, Reefer Madness, but I don’t think we know enough about it. As it becomes more mainstream, like cigarettes and alcohol, I believe we will see more research findings.

Gladwell mentions e-cigarettes and how they are being handled by governments as a comparison to marijuana. He wrote that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than regular cigarettes, but in many ways, it is more difficult to buy them. Educators are seeing increased use of e-cigarettes by teenagers and this is a concern.

I will be curious to see how we view marijuana use over time. We are embarking on a large-scale experiment on the effects on our society. I wonder how we will feel 20 years from now.

Outliers: The Story of Success

The Administrative Team of the International School of Belgrade is reading and discussing the book, “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell. We annually select a book to discuss throughout the year. Last year Last year we read the management book, Influencer: The Power To Change Anything.   Click on the link to see my notes on it. 

This post will be notes from my reading of Outliers and discussions with my colleagues. I want to focus on the implications for our students, teachers, and parents of our learning community.

The best introduction to the book is the interview below by PBS journalist, Charlie Rose. He talked with Gladwell in December of 2008 about his latest book, Outliers.

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