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In an up-state NY middle school English class two debate teams have been preparing for a contest over Medical Marijuana. They asked CASA for some facts about the issue but clearly had their own ideas as well. What was suprising, in addition to having so many facts wrong, was the passion for each side of the argument. That’s why we call them arguments, I suppose. And debaters should have passion, show passion.

We have talked before about Assembly bill (A 9016) and a Senate bill (S 4041 B) that would, in effect, make marijuana a legal medical drug.

But these kids were asking about smoking. Marijuana is smoked -right! Smoking can be good, apparently.

Sure, kids will understand the difference between legal medicine and THC rich “street” marijuana. It’s not as if misuse of legal prescription drugs is already growing in school age populations across the country.  (However it is according to SAMHSA and a few teachers. I have talked to).  It’s not as if we’re confusing them even more?

Shouldn’t parents and teachers of middle schoolers in New York State participate in both sides of this debate? Maybe the kids don’t know the facts (and that’s some evidence that there hasn’t been enough discussion), but at least they are trying to find facts.

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These words can create angst for teachers, moms and dads everywhere. Of course Assembly Bill A.7542, Senate Bill S.4041 is a question of “medicalizing” Marijuana not making it as legal as a candy bar. Put aside the thoughtful and studied opinions of “professionals from the addictions field” for a moment and the varied opinions of high school teens and college students that only want to make their own choices. One group remains with a big stake in the game -teachers.

Teachers and parents as a collective, seem to be overwhelmed with expectations (on them) or are moving in that direction. Their responsibilities have grown far beyond instructing. Any caring teacher, and most are, understands he or she must also be a part-time parent and a counselor.

Teachers need to be able to engage, motivate and teach. To keep kids engaged they also need to care about their individual needs and respond effectively to: health and wellness issues, self-confidence, personal safety, bullying, sexuality, domestic violence, absentee parents, addiction in the home and sometimes even parent criminality.  Teachers and parents have about the same responsibilities but at different times of the day. Teachers can be with kids more waking hours than parents and the responsibilities grow.

Should we add one more challenge and make smokable Marijuana even a little more available to kids than it already is?  What is the cost? The benefit? We hear a lot of pro and con about making marijuana more acceptable and less criminal for adults. Either way, there is always some impact on kids and classrooms. What would teachers say?

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