the conversation started like this: "Hey I tried calling you on your cellphone today, but your sister said you didn't have it anymore... what happened?" I said to a teenager I know.
"My parents took it away.... " she answered "Why?" I asked... wondering.... "I got caught smoking pot" she replied. "That was your first mistake" I said laughing.....

I think that drinking creates more health, emotional and behavioral problems, leads to violence, crime and assault more than pot does... by far. I have no real study to back me up on this belief... just my life experience from 1993-1997 - 4 short years... give or take.

I do, however, know one sure fire way that pot can cause some damage is by getting caught. Nothing limits your future than an arrest record.

My young friend already knew that the substance was illegal and I am sure she got a good earful of the moral objections to the drug from her family... she obviously was deciding to do it anyway... so I gave her some advice. (which could be used for drinking too I guess... except for the last one)

So this is what I told her:

1. Make sure when you are high you are with people who love you. (t0 me this is the most important rule) Getting high with a bunch of strangers is never a good thing. You need to make sure there will be someone there who can take care of you if something goes wrong. You are intentionally impairing your judgement and altering your mindset... you need someone there to watch your back.

2. Don't do it out in public... like your car, or a park.... those sort of things attract attention from the cops.

3. Don't get caught (duh!) What I really mean is, don't be flashy about it... it is not something to brag about. If you are smoking dope and trying to get people to see how edgy and hip you are that plan will only backfire in the long run. Nothing changes your future like a spot on your permanent record.

4. Don't go to some friend of a friends house to party... Even though most people are generally good there are always a couple of bad seeds and having drugs in the mix increases that chance ... You have to remember that your friend who bought the drugs from his friend who knows a guy who met someone at bar is NOT a person you know anything about and most likely quite shifty... better to stay away from the shifty situations. Know well the person's house you are at... like at least their last name ...

5. Educate yourself. You don't learn about sex from some dude in the hall at school and you shouldn't learn about drugs that way either. You must educate yourself with facts and learn to ignore the urban myths and over dramatized fear tactics that you will encounter (ie Reefer Madness). Read about what you are doing to yourself and your mind. Learn and understand how your body reacts to the drug; how much is too much - how long do you stay high off of one puff or one joint?

6. Don't smoke dope just to smoke it... use it for an experience. Listen to music, do yoga, paint, watch a movie, write, create something...don't smoke just because it allows you to drink more (because that will always backfire... badly!)

My young friend is just 18... which I think is an okay age for this sort of experimentation... I think my advice would be completely different for a 15 year old, and probably not needed for someone in their 20s. I am not sure what the rules are for advice like this... I am sure that a lot of people would think that me even sharing this sort of thing with my friend is wrong... but I am not her parents. Her parents are taking care of the punishment aspect of all this ... I felt like she needed some honest answers. It was not my place to condemn OR congratulate... and I was not giving her permission either... she made the choice on her own... my intent was that with more information she would be able to make more informed decisions.

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