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Pot Parents: Smoking's Better Than Drinking!

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A controversial new movement promotes pot use instead of alcohol. These parents want to ban pot prohibition because they believe it will save lives.

teen smoking

Gina Kaysen Fernandes: Alcohol and marijuana are the two most popular -- and easily accessible -- substances on college campuses, but they're not treated the same under the law. Possessing pot can land you in jail, but drinking too much at a keg party can kill you. "This highlights the absurdity in how we treat these two substances," said Mason Tvert, the co-founder and executive director of the group Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, or SAFER. Mason has made it his personal mission to debunk the government's anti-marijuana message. "The fact that we have students drinking themselves to death made us realize we had to start some awareness on college campuses," says Mason.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 20,000 Americans die every year as a result of drinking too much. It's a tragedy that Mason narrowly escaped. He nearly died from an alcohol overdose in the summer of 2000. The high school senior guzzled beer all day at a country music festival in Arizona. "Beer was widely available, and my friends gave it to me," recalls Mason. Paramedics rushed him to a nearby hospital, where doctors pumped his stomach. Mason's mother didn't know what happened to her son until the next day, because he was 18 years old and the hospital was not required to notify his parents. "He could have died -- I was so worried about that," said Diane Tvert. As a practicing physical therapist, Diane is supportive of her son's efforts to dispel marijuana myths. "I would so much rather he smoke pot than drink and get behind the wheel of a car," said Diane.

Many like-minded moms share her opinion. "I want my children to grow up to believe that laws are just and rational, and if there's injustice, they should fight it," said Jessica Peck Corry, a Denver-based Republican political strategist. Jessica, a former GOP candidate for state senate, is also a cannabis activist who campaigned for a ballot initiative that would decriminalize marijuana possession in Colorado. "We can no longer afford to wage war on a substance that people can grow in their backyard. It's a war we can't win," says Jessica. As a mother of two young children, Jessica says she plans to have an open dialogue with her kids about drug and alcohol use, even though, she says, "I want to place them in this bubble where I can protect them." Jessica believes that by arming her daughters with accurate information, "they will respect their bodies and make good decisions." These moms insist they're not pushing their kids to abuse drugs, but prefer they choose the lesser of two evils. "Things have gotten so skewed. People look at pot like it's the bogeyman. It's not going to kill you; alcohol can kill you," said Diane.

The statistics on the dangers of alcohol are staggering. Drinking on college campuses led to 1,400 deaths, 500,000 injuries, and 70,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape, according to a 2002 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) task force.

The risks associated with getting stoned are fuzzier. No studies have found a direct link between marijuana overdose and death. There's no objective research that finds pot use contributes to violent or aggressive behavior. "They're correct. Typically people don't get violent; I'll be the first to admit that," said Ken Winters, Ph.D., a psychiatry professor at the University of Minnesota-Fairview who specializes in adolescent substance abuse. "But there are plenty of issues with marijuana. It's not a healthy option," says Winters, who believes parents are fooling themselves if they think smoking pot has no long-term consequences. "Prolonged marijuana use appears to increase memory and learning problems," said Winters, who adds, "like tobacco, habitual pot smoking can also lead to cancer and respiratory diseases." Winters also warns there's new research emerging that suggests marijuana can effect your DNA, which has risky implications. He thinks that parents who rationalize marijuana use are being naïve. Instead, Winters recommends we teach our kids to drink responsibly by sticking to the two-drink rule. "It's no fun to be the 'no-fun police,' but that's what you got into, that's part of parenting."

The so-called "Marijuana is Safer" movement is gaining momentum among college students, but is facing a lot of resistance from campus officials. Mason believes the institutions are part of the problem. On one hand, school administrators are trying to promote responsible drinking, yet "universities are fostering this behavior," argues Mason, by allowing beer companies to sponsor campus events like fraternity parties.

A number of well-known party schools are starting to mellow out on pot penalties. Students are adopting SAFER measures at about a dozen college campuses nationwide, including Colorado State University, University of Colorado-Boulder, Florida State University, University of Maryland, University of Texas-Austin, University of Central Florida, and Ohio State University. Students on these campuses are working to make sure the school penalties for marijuana use are no greater than those for alcohol use.

Mason makes his case for SAFER Referendums in a new book hitting shelves this month, titled "Marijuana is Safer, So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?." Mason co-authored the book along with two other prominent legalization advocates, Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, and Paul Armentano of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

Marijuana is so easily accessible that one in three Americans have tried it at least once, including the three most recent U.S. presidents. The nation's marijuana business is estimated to rake in $113 billion in annual sales. That's not far behind the alcohol industry, which pockets $130 billion per year. For parents like Jessica, it's the fiscal concerns that make her blood boil. "It costs $30,000 a year to incarcerate a pot dealer, and we spend $10,000 a year to educate a child." Jessica thinks it's time that more mothers come forward "because for so long, others have been exploiting our children by perpetuating this war on drugs in the name of our children."


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142 comments so far | Post a comment now
mike August 11, 2009, 8:29 AM

Gloria, what is the point of trying to force people to use alcohol to get high, which is exactly what marijuana prohibition is intended to do? When’s the last time you heard of someone who only used marijuana being responsible for a killing? It’s truly rare, but it’s common for someone who only used alcohol to commit murder or suicide, on or off the roads. You can also die of an overdose of alcohol or of chronic abuse, and your life can be destroyed before it begins by your mother’s use of alcohol, these are not concerns when someone uses marijuana (or cannabis, to use it’s traditional name before the ‘Reefer Madness’ racists of the 30’s decided to give it a Mexican name, the better to demonize it). Sorry to sound like a broken record, but it’s alcohol that truly makes people act like demons. Take what we’re saying about alcohol vs. cannabis seriously, and we won’t have to repeat it ad nauseum. Pretend we don’t exist, and we’ll just push harder, until we get a serious, sober response from the prohibitionists.

No thanks August 11, 2009, 11:44 AM

And herein lies the problem w/pot and pot smokers. They think it not dangerous. A high driver is just as lethal as a drunk driver. A high college kid is just as impaired at making decisions as a drunk one. So sad that pot smokers can’t admit that to themselves. Much in the same one they can’t admit their addiction.

Anonymous August 11, 2009, 12:57 PM

if it were legal more pemple would vaporize. which prevents smoking the vegetable material. so there goes half of that arguement of a dangerous weed .

Brooke August 11, 2009, 4:20 PM

I agree with Gloria and “no thanks” on this one. To Mike: no one is forcing anyone to use alcohol to get high. Why do you feel the need to get high in the first place? You must have terrible issues in your life if you need to get high to escape it. And to all those who claim the govt. should legalize pot and tax it like it does cigarettes and other tobacco products; it takes too much tobacco to make one cigarette for one person to grow in their backyard, while as we all know, one teenager can grow enough marijuana in his closet to keep himself supplied.

Alice August 11, 2009, 7:24 PM

I have been a pot smoker for well over 30 years, and I do not drink. I have tried alcohol and do not like the effects. I also owned a bar and seen the effects of alcohol on many people and it was terrible. I have researched pot for my college paper, and would go to the mats to get it legalized. I too, have had the talk with my children and told them if they have to do one or the other, please let it be pot. By the way, pot was outlawed in the 1930’s because of money. Big paper and plastics business didn’t want to compete and they still don’t. You may be interested to learn we can get over 25,000 products from marijuana including fuel to heat our homes and run our vehicles. Pot is a plant that can be harvested every thirty days and does no harm to the earth and has a self contained pest control. Hemp is an amazing God given product that has gotten a bad rap. As for you sicko’s blowing smoke in babies faces,you are the reason so many politicians are still fighting against us who are responsible smokers. I for one will smoke to the end of my days and enjoy every minute of it.

Justin August 13, 2009, 6:24 PM

I have a college engineering degree, a dual degree at that. I have a 9-5 job and I pay my taxes. I smoked nearly every day during college when I could afford it, and now smoke nearly every day AFTER work at my successful career. I have a wonderful relationship with my family, am about to get married, and have never had to have my stomach pumped from an overdose of alcohol. I’ve never committed a crime in order to obtain pot, other than the crime of possessing it in the first place. The worst I’ve ever been convicted of is a speeding ticket. People in this country have forgotten all personal responsibility. If I get high and cause an accident, then throw me in jail. If I decide to smoke responsibly at home, what business is it of yours or the government?

Try it - you'll like it! August 14, 2009, 12:45 AM

Brooke - don’t knock it until you try it. it’s not an escape, but an elightenment.

I think some people are afraid of what they might find by expanding their mind and conciousness.

akt August 14, 2009, 10:47 AM

ok.. for those of you saying it takes more tobacco for a cig then weed for a joint.. you apparently have never rolled your own cigarettes or a joint before using a CIGARETTE ROLLER. acigarette roller makes a normal size cig and so does it a joint the size of a cig so shut up with that crap. and as far as growing marijuana in a closet.. its hard work and costs money and usually fails before even a bud pops up on the pretty plant. if government legalized it and controlled it then farmers wouldn’t be foreclosed on it would be taxed the crime rate would drop and our jails wouldn’t be so full of marijuana dealers or buyers so that there would be room for the murderers rapists etc…

not to mention the USA would have money
also if its legalized the majority of young people wouldn’t want it because the fun of ooo its something we’re not supposed to be doing would not be there anymore. make it 21 or older to buy and make it where you can’t buy but a select amount at one time
keep growing it illegal

its not like the cops can’t find crops or closet crops

its called heat and helicopters find closet crops all the time


those of you that are against it get over yourselfs and teach your children its bad because as parents you usually teach your child your own views and opinions.

those of you for it i’m with you and i believe that pot will be legal by the end of obama’s first term ;)

Christina Valdez August 14, 2009, 11:58 AM

I am the daughter of a pot smoking flower child. All my life I have been around marijuana so it is very natural for me. I smoke pot as well. It was never forced on me or have I ever been in trouble by the law as a result.
I have my own kids who grew up knowing I smoke, once again it is natural.
Now my kids are grown and have kids themselfs and guess what? Yes they smoke pot. Well all but one who chose to be a drunk crack head who now is serving 8 years in prison. I myself am a ex drinker, Yes I got in trouble all the time…Fights,dui’s I do not miss the drunken days.
I am so pleased to see that there is people out there who know marijuana is good.
I smoke daily and have done so since 1977 and I plan on smokin till the day I die.
PUFF PUFF PASS!!

Andrew August 14, 2009, 5:47 PM

“And herein lies the problem w/pot and pot smokers. They think it not dangerous. A high driver is just as lethal as a drunk driver. A high college kid is just as impaired at making decisions as a drunk one. So sad that pot smokers can’t admit that to themselves. Much in the same one they can’t admit their addiction.”

WOW - what a fool. “High drivers are not as lethal as drunk ones.” That is absurd! I’d much rather ride in a car with someone who is high from pot then drunk as a skunk. Honestly, people black out on alcohol; their bodies start shutting down. Your comments show that you are highly uneducated on the subject.

Pam August 18, 2009, 1:38 PM

I think that it is all bad! If you have to have a man made substence to get a kick out of life you are a real loser! Drugs (any kind) and alchol do more than damage you they damage the people that care the most. Think about your kids. Think about the what if! It does so much more than you think it does.

dawn August 18, 2009, 3:48 PM

I feel that marijuana should be legal, and that it is way better than drinking.I have smoked it, and know alot of people that also smoke it, they do hold regular jobs, in fact some are in management, own their own businesses,and are regular every day people. They just need a way to wind down at the end of the day. It doesn’t make you go crazy like booze can, it is hard to overdose on. I don’t mind that my kids smoke, I feel it is alot safer than drinking,so please just legalize it!

Mark August 25, 2009, 6:01 PM

A recent study at UCSD found that Marijuana seems to protect brain tissue from damages due to excessive drinking. In the study of students that regularly binge-drink they found that the binge-drinkers that also smoked pot had less brain damage. Even if you drink alcohol it seems that Marijuana helps protect your brain from damages caused by alcohol.

jamie August 26, 2009, 7:57 PM

i am 15 years old and i smoke pot fairly often, i guess because its summer. i started in april of this year, starting off i rarely smoked, id say once every 3 weeks to a month, it took me about three times to get high, but being high that first time was amazing, second time not so great, 3rd time it evened it out and now that i smoke pot pretty often being high is very relaxing and a good time with your buddies. when i started getting into pot i started making friends with the people i didnt like because they smoked. pretty much the potheads of my town. i told myself i am going to stop smoking pot for the school year and see what happens from there. but the thing is i just got caught by my father today for smoking pot, in my room, VERY stupid. he understood but was pretty disapointed. i smoke usually at night and the next day i always tell myself i need to cut down. over the 5 months ive been smoking i seem to have lost most of ambition. i just dont want to do anything or i dont see a purpose in most things. i always think back to the end of 9th grade when i first started, smoked rarely, had a great girlfriend, life was great, now im sitting here screwed in my bedroom, i do believe that its ok to smoke pot when your underaged and all, but just not alot, make it an acassional thing its more fun that way, im actually happy that im gonna get to be sober all the time now. hopefully ill be happier

Matthew August 29, 2009, 1:16 PM

It is NOT true that driving after smoking marijuana is as bad is drinking and driving. When someone who is drunk is behind the wheel, they are likely to drive faster and much more recklessly, whereas a person who is high recognizes that he/she is impaired and while compensate by driving slower and more carefully. From my own experience, I drive like a grandma if I drive high.

Matthew August 29, 2009, 1:18 PM

It is NOT true that driving after smoking marijuana is as bad is drinking and driving. When someone who is drunk is behind the wheel, they are likely to drive faster and much more recklessly, whereas a person who is high recognizes that he/she is impaired and while compensate by driving slower and more carefully. From my own experience, I drive like a grandma if I drive high.

Paul S August 29, 2009, 4:05 PM

Cannabis causes cancer? Only sheeple that react to scare tactics over scientific studies would believe that rubbish.

Ken Winters says “Prolonged marijuana use appears to increase memory and learning problems,” and “like tobacco, habitual pot smoking can also lead to cancer and respiratory diseases.”. Really? Only sheeple that react to scare tactics over scientific studies would believe that rubbish. Below you will see that Ken Winters lies or is unaware of recent cannabis science. This makes him an unreliable source of cannabis truth.

There isn’t even a need for debate here! Cannabis has been used for medicine and recreation with no lasting adverse reaction for thousands of years. Do prohibitionists really think their misguided moralistic objections are going to change that? Come on! It’s time to let go of ideology for the sake of scientific progress thus stopping the slayings of thousands and decrease family separation which are promoted solely by prohibition policies.

Look, if an adult vaporizes or consumes cannabis in food there will be absolutely no lasting negative physiological occurrence. No killing of brain cells, no cancer, no psychosis, nothing. If any of these things were caused by cannabis consumption the people effected or the dead would be paraded in front of the world by prohibitionists. As it stands (for thousands of years) they don’t have one case of the above to show for their misinformation and half-truths.
Continued ->

Paul S August 29, 2009, 4:10 PM

Another point of truth: The reasons cannabis is not for children are because it can distort time, space and perception (or in other words it gets you high) which can be a problem for inexperienced minds. If used frequently it can also have an impact on a growing brain. So pre-pubescents would be better off if they did not use cannabis. Those are the only concerning reasons to promote abstinence for children and they are good ones. So let’s regulate to gain control over cannabis distribution which under prohibition is fully in the hands of drug cartels and their dealers that don’t ask for ID and try to up-sale our youth to meth and cocaine for lasting patronage.

If a child has a medical problem that can be helped by the use of cannabis according his Dr and approved by his parents then abstinence should be waved. Eaten in small amounts would be the advised administration in this case according to all the information I have read on the matter. I’m not promoting cannabis use among children when I say the following but I would rather see my kids use cannabis then alcohol or tobacco; substances that can totally incapacitate or kill.

Click on the links below for a few studies on cannabis (you may have to cut and past URLs to your browser):

Continued ->

Paul S August 29, 2009, 4:24 PM


For those of you who relate anecdotal banter about cannabis being the cause of unproductive lives or reckless behavior need to realize the truth about those people and stop blaming cannabis for their misgivings. There are as more lazy unproductive people around the world that do not use cannabis then those that do (percentage per capita). What are you going to blame their lack of social graces on? Whatever a persons behavior or level of motivation will be the same no matter what they put in their bodies. Stop enabling!

FiddleMan August 29, 2009, 4:30 PM

Ken Winters, Ph.D., psychiatry professor at the University of Minnesota-Fairview who specializes in adolescent substance abuse is a Hard Drug Pusher!

How about this guy? Ken Winters actually recommends TEACHING our kids to drink Alcohol (one of the deadliest of all drugs, whether legal or not) instead of teaching that there is a safe alternative! This makes Ken Winters a seriously dangerous “Hard-Drug Pusher” who is paid by the State of Minnesota to push (towards our children) one of the most deadly drugs known to man! Kenny, how many kids will you kill with your teaching before you learn how wrong your teaching is? I will never allow my children to attend any school that you are affiliated with!

I also suspect that Ken Winters is probably paid off by [our] government to omit truths in his statements. These omissions include clinical studies that any 1st year student of adolescent substance abuse would already know! The statement “like tobacco, habitual pot smoking can also lead to cancer and respiratory diseases.” proves that Ken has never even heard of (or CHOOSES NOT to mention) any of the many clinical studies showing that Cannabis DECREASES chances of getting cancer EVEN IF a person also smokes tobacco (the worst of the cancer-causing drugs)! I guess he has never heard of Vaporizers either… I don’t like to think that anyone who specializes in adolescent substance abuse at a State University could be quite this ignorant of his own field of [non-study], but chances are that he is NOT that ignorant, but tells us what he was ordered to tell us by his superiors. Maybe Minnesota-Fairview will lose State Financing from Minnesota if they don’t regurgitate State Propaganda!

I think that Ken Winters should be fired immediately, and Minnesota-Fairview and the State of Minnesota sued! These State-Sponsored Alcohol Pushers are deadly dangerous for our children and need to be stopped! Our Children need a SAFER option!

Ken, if you are not sponsored by [our] government to push hard drugs, then do some research - and that doesn’t mean to simply read the Office of National Drug Control Policy website propaganda! If you really are not being paid off by the government to say things like you did in this article then you should STRONGLY consider NOT contributing to an article such as this as it TOTALLY DESTROYS YOUR ACADEMIC CREDIBILITY!

Legalize Cannabis Now!


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