Monday, October 21, 2013

40 Developmental Assets We Can Give Our Children

A Summary: The 40 Developmental Assets Framework From GeorgetownCARES The 40 Developmental Assets are positive experiences, relationships, opportunities, and personal qualities that young people need to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. The Framework is grounded in research on child and adolescent development, risk prevention, and resiliency. Assets are easy to build! Asset building is about relationships—anyone can do it. You can make a difference and help a young person succeed! Research shows that the more assets young people have, the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors. Assets 1) promote academic success, 2) divert youth from risky behaviors and increase civic engagement, 3) give young people the strengths they need to make positive choices in life. Across the United States, in big cities and in small towns, most young people now experience fewer than half of the 40 Developmental Assets. Those youth have an 18-38% chance of illicit drug use. Youth with more than 20 assets have a 1-6% chance of illicit drug use. Assets make a difference! The 40 Developmental Assets for Grades 6-12 EXTERNAL Support: family support, positive family communication, other adult relationships, caring neighborhood, caring school climate, parent involvement in schooling. Empowerment: community values youth, youth have useful roles, service to others, feels safe. Boundaries & Expectations: family boundaries, school boundaries, neighborhood boundaries, adult role models, positive peer influence, high expectations. Constructive Use of Time: creative activities, youth programs, religious community, time at home. INTERNAL Commitment to learning: Achievement motivation, school engagement (active learning), homework (reports doing at least 1 hour per day), bonding to school (cares about school), reading for pleasure. Positive Values: Caring, equality and social justice, integrity (acts on convictions, stands up for beliefs), honesty, responsibility (takes personal), restraint (believes in avoiding risky behavior). Social Competencies: planning and decision making, interpersonal competence (empathy, sensitivity), cultural competence (comfortable with differences), resistance skills (to peer pressure and dangerous situations), peaceful conflict resolution. Positive Identity: personal power, self-esteem, sense of purpose, positive view of personal future. America’s Promise-The Alliance for Youth has identified and promoted these Five Promises we need to make to our children: 1) Caring Adults, 2) Safe Places and Constructive Use of Time, 3) A Healthy Start and Healthy Development, 4) Effective Education for Marketable Skills and Lifelong Learning, 5) Opportunities to Make a Difference through Helping Others. The Five Action Strategies for Transforming Communities and Society Creating a World Where All Young People Are Valued and Thrive 1. Engage Adults – To develop sustained, strength-building relationship with youth. 2. Mobilize Young People – To use their power as asset builders and change-makers. 3. Activate Sectors – To create an asset-building culture, contributing to youth development. 4. Invigorate Programs– Expand/enhance programs to become asset rich & accessible to youth. 5. Influence Civic Decisions–Leverage financial, media, and policy resources to support youth. The Search Institute at Our Mission: To provide leadership, knowledge and resources to promote healthy children, youth, and communities. 615 First Ave. NE, Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413 800-888-7828

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ecstasy: Get the Facts

Ecstasy: Get the Facts Knowledge is Power: The #1 deterrent of substance abuse in teens is PARENTS! From GeorgetownCARES – What is Ecstasy? Ecstasy, chemically known as MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), is a (psychoactive) stimulant hallucinogenic drug. It is usually sold in pill form ($40/per pill), but is also available in powder form. Because Ecstasy is illegal and, therefore, unregulated, it is impossible for the average user to know what is contained in a “dose.” Pills may contain varying levels of stimulants such as MDA (an amphetamine-speed) or caffeine, or anesthetics such as Ketamine or dextromethorphan. Ecstasy is produced synthetically in (mostly European) labs and smuggled to the US. There is no recognized medical use; it is a federally classified Schedule I drug. What does Ecstasy look like? Tablets resemble to Smarties candies, coming in many colors, most imprinted with logos/headstamps of crowns, stars, birds, blue dolphins, dragons. Butterflies & Tinkerbells are international symbols for Ecstasy. Users wear T-shirts with the symbol onE, meaning “on Ecstasy.” Ecstasy also sometimes comes in geltabs. Short term effects: The effects of Ecstasy are felt within 30-45 minutes, peaking after 60-90, and lasting 4-6 hours. The drug produces a massive serotonin (and dopamine) release, resulting in strong feelings of well-being, connectedness to others, and mild dreamy hallucinations. Increased heart rate and blood pressure can lead to seizures. The stimulant effects of the drug enable users to dance for extended periods, which often leads to severely dehydration. Users can experience hyperthermia or dramatic increases in body temperature. This further leads to muscle breakdown and kidney, liver and cardiovascular failure (death). Cardiovascular failure has been reported in some of the Ecstasy-related fatalities. After/hangover effects include sleep-problems, depression, anxiety, dullness and lethargy lasting 2 or more days. Tolerance builds after 10 uses; users “chase the magic.” Because repeat doses have stimulant but no mood effects, addictiveness level is relatively low. This is because serotonin levels take time to rebuild before they can be released again. Overdose signs include panic, vomiting, loss of consciousness, extreme overheating (can result in death), kidney failure, hyponatremia, intravascular coagulation (DIC). Signs of use: Ecstasy users’ pupils dilate, often making them very sensitive to light. Jaw-clenching and tooth-grinding are also observable effects; users may chew gum or bite on something. Senses are heightened, and Ecstasy users often want to intensify the feeling by dancing, talking, and touching. Users often display overt signs of affection, which explains its nickname, the “hug drug.”. Long term effects: - Repeated use of Ecstasy ultimately may damage the nerve cells that produce serotonin, which has an important role in the regulation of mood, appetite, pain, learning and memory. There already is research suggesting Ecstasy use can disrupt or interfere with memory and long-term cognitive capabilities. Driving accidents are 58% greater than non-drug users. SLANG – “Club Drug” - Because Ecstasy is popular at Rave parties and dance clubs, enabling users to dance for long periods of time, it is called a “club drug.” Other names for Ecstasy include E, X, XTC, Adam, rolls, candy, enhancements, love drug, hug drug, vitamin E. Rates of Use - Ecstasy is most popular among 18 to 25 year olds (used by 5% of that US population). High school/middle school data from Monitoring the Future 2009 National Survey re: Ecstasy use are as follows: 12th grade 10th grade 8th grade % who used in last month 4.2 3.8 1.4 % seeing “great risk” in using once or twice 53 39 25 5 disapproving of using once or twice 86 76 61 % saying “fairly” or “very” easy to get 35 26 14 Sources:,,,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Marijuana: Get the Facts

Marijuana: Get the Facts Knowledge is Power: The #1 deterrent of substance abuse in teens is PARENTS! See and https// From GeorgetownCARES – Marijuana is the illicit drug of choice among teens. 2007 US National YRBS High School Use: 20% of students one or more times in the past 30 days. 2011 US National YRBS High School Use: 23% of students one or more times in the past 30 days. 2007 Mass. YRBS High School Use: 25% of students one or more times in the past 30 days. 2011 Mass. YRBS High School Use: 28% of students one or more times in the past 30 days. Main active ingredient: THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) from the plant, cannabis sativa. THC is a hallucinogen, with analgesic/pain-relieving properties. THC depresses brain activity, producing a dreamy state in which ideas seem disconnected and uncontrollable. In the sixties, the THC content of marijuana was about 3%. Now it ranges from 7-20%. Depending on the source, the marijuana may have added chemicals in it such as pesticides, other drugs or fungus. Hashish is a preparation of cannabis composed of the compressed stalked resin glands called trichomes, same effects. Short term effects: Causes hazy euphoria; alters time, depth, color and sound perception. May relieve tension and provide a sense of well-being. Can cause anxiety, paranoia, distrust, panic, fatigue and depression. Communicative and motor abilities decrease during use. Impairs memory, problem-solving ability, increases distractibility. Stimulates appetite, can reduce nausea. Also causes increased heart rate, restlessness, bloodshot eyes, dry mouth, irritability, sleep disturbance. Marijuana increases heart rate by 20–100 percent shortly after smoking; this effect can last up to 3 hours. In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users have a 4-8 fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug.7(NIDA) Long term effects: - Increased risk of lung cancer; regular users face a 70% increase in testicular cancer (NECN). - Decreased immunity to colds, flu, bronchitis (lung infections), emphysema. - Respiratory problems may develop, including a persistent cough. Triggers bronchial asthma. - Amotivational syndrome is common among regular marijuana smokers, produced by deteriorating neural connectivity. Symptoms include: increased levels of apathy, depression, difficulty in starting new tasks, not accomplishing or not setting goals, decreased concentration, a tendency toward introversion, suicidal feelings. - In June 2009, a University of Leicester (England) study found carcinogens in marijuana smoke in amounts 50% greater than in cigarette smoke. It was also noted that smoking 3 to 4 joints (marijuana cigarettes) a day is associated with the same degree of damage to bronchial mucus membrane as smoking 20 cigarettes a day. - In a 2008 study at University of Melbourne, the part of the brain believed to regulate emotion and memory, known as the hippocampus, was on average 12 per cent smaller in marijuana users compared to non-marijuana users. The amygdala, which regulates fear and aggression, was on average just more than 7 per cent smaller. - Marijuana-induced Psychosis – Large quantities may produce a toxic psychosis, in which users do not know who they are, where they are, or what time it is. - Increased likelihood of developing schizophrenia associated with related psychosis. - Addiction to Marijuana occurs in 10% of all users; 17% of adolescent users, or 1 out of 6 teen users. Addiction requires specific treatment; long-term recovery eludes many addicts. Adolescent Mental Health (from Weekly or more frequent use of marijuana doubles a teen’s risk of depression and anxiety. Depressed teens are more than twice as likely as their peers to abuse or become dependent on marijuana. Several studies have documented marijuana’s link with symptoms of schizophrenia and report that cannabis is an independent risk factor for schizophrenia; heavy users of marijuana at age 18 increased their risk of schizophrenia later in life by six times; the risk is greater for youth with a family history of schizophrenia. Gateway effect: Prevention’s 2008 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 11,000 9th through 12th graders indicated that, among teens aged 12 to 17 with no other problem behaviors, those who used marijuana at least once in the past 30 days are 13 times likelier than those teens who have not used marijuana in the past 30 days (33.5 percent vs. 4.4 percent) to use another drug like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, LSD or Ecstasy, and almost 26 times likelier than those teens who have never used marijuana (33.5 percent vs. 1.3 percent) to use another drug like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, LSD or Ecstasy. (from ) Addictive Nature: Can be addictive; users may become dependent upon it to feel good, deal with life, or handle stress. Frequent users develop tolerance, needing to smoke more to achieve the same effect. 20% of Drug Treatment admissions are for marijuana addiction. Long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit report irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which make it difficult to quit. These withdrawal symptoms begin within about 1 day following abstinence, peak at 2–3 days, and subside within 1 or 2 weeks following drug cessation.5 Physical signs of use: red or bloodshot eyes, pupil dilation, droopy eye lids, tremor in eyelids or hands, slow speech, smell, dry mouth, excessive giggling, hunger (muchies) or thirst, impaired reaction time. Paraphernalia: pipes (mostly homemade now, such as with soda cans), rolling papers, room deodorizers (and Febreze), Visine/eyedrops. Marijuana and Driving: Drivers who consume cannabis within three hours of driving are nearly twice as likely to cause a vehicle collision as those who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, claims a paper published recently on the British Medical Journal website (2012). Previous studiess have also found that there is also a substantially higher chance of collision if the driver is aged 35 or younger. Medical Marijuana: The medical effects that are considered potentially valuable are appetite stimulation, nausea reduction and pain relief for cancer patients. Also, both evidence from laboratory studies and anecdotal reports suggest that cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound of cannabis, could potentially be helpful in controlling epilepsy seizures. The FDA, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy all do not support the use of smoked marijuana for medical reasons. There are currently 2 oral forms of cannabis (cannabinoids) available by prescription in the United States for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy: dronabinol (Marinol) and nabilone (Cesamet). Dronabinol is also approved for the treatment of anorexia associated with AIDS. Where does it come from? Of those who bought marijuana in the past year (2007, SAMHSA), 78% say they bought it from a friend, 16% from someone they just met, 3% from relatives, 3% unspecified source. Most marijuana comes from Mexico, Canada, and the US. The NDTA (National Drug Threat Assessment) reports a sharp increase in indoor cultivation in the U.S.56 The top seven states for marijuana cultivation are California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia. Sources: • The Merck Manual of Medical Information. • • •

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bath Salts: Get the Facts

Bath Salts: Get the Facts Knowledge is Power: The #1 deterrent of substance abuse in teens is PARENTS! From GeorgetownCARES – May 2013 Did you know? A new trend in youth drug use involves experimenting with powders known as “bath salts” to get high. Use of these stimulant/amphetamine/hallucinogens are responsible for a large and growing number of emergency room visits across the country. Bath salts can produce effects comparable to a combination of methamphetamine and cocaine. The potential for bodily harm, fatal overdoses, violent behavior of users, plus the addictive nature of the drug have caused serious alarm for many. In 2011 there were more than 6,000 calls to poison control centers, more than ten times the number in 2010, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Data on teen use of bath salts is still scarce because this is so recent a phenomenon. The drug “bath salts” should not be confused in any way with epsom salt products; they are completely dissimilar. Producers and distributors call the drug “bath salts” to evade drug law enforcement. This drug is also marketed as plant food, stain remover, or various cleaning products. What exactly are bath salts? – The active ingredients of bath salts are two synthetic cathinones which act as stimulant/hallucinogens. One is a dopamine-releasing agent known as mephedrone (MEPH), which – like METH – causes the brain to release more dopamine. The other chemical is methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), which – like cocaine – is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Both compounds increase dopamine availability to receptors, and both – through different mechanisms – produce feelings of euphoria. Neither has any FDA approved medical use. First developed in 1969, MDPV and MEPH remained obscure stimulants until around 2004 when they were first sold as “bath salts.” Bath salts appear as fine crystalline powders that tend to clump, resembling something like powdered sugar. The color ranges from white to yellowish-tan to brown, and the darker powder omits a slight odor. What is the legal status of bath salts/MDPV? The drug has been legal to sell in most states when labeled “not for human consumption,” until very recently. In July 2012, the Federal Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 added 26 chemicals, including MDPV and MEPH, the active ingredients of bath salts, to the list of Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. The 2012 legislation extended the executive authority of the DEA over synthetic drugs to three years; and criminalized the manufacture, distribution, sale, and use of certain synthetic drugs to include a minimum 20 year sentence for those who are directly responsible for the death or injury of another person by manufacturing, distribution or sales of synthetic drugs. A few states have also enacted a ban on certain bath salt ingredients for any use. How are bath salts used? Bath salts are usually ingested by sniffing/snorting. They can also be taken orally in capsule form, smoked, or put into a solution and injected into veins. Where can a person find bath salts? Bath salts are sold heavily online, but are also readily available in retail outlets – such as convenience stores or gas stations, where you may see a whole display of pills and packages marked as “energy boosters.” Some may be legal, and some may not be. Head or smoke shops, both of which may sell drug paraphernalia just within the limits of the law, also sell these drugs. Bath salts are usually made in local/underground “labs” or imported from Asia. How can you tell if something that is labeled as a bath salt is really a drug? Bath salts are often sold in boxes of foil or plastic packets that are about the size of a moist towelette. If the box also says, “not for human consumption,” or that it is “not illegal” (never a good sign) or that it is for “adults only,” it is probably a drug that was created for ingestion and not for a hot bath. A box is priced from $30 to $50, less than some other illegal substances. What does the packaging look like and what are some Street/brand names for bath salts? Use Google Image to find “bath salts drug” or “bath salts drug packaging” pictures of the products. Names used to sell product include Cloud 9, Ivory Soft Concentrated Bath Salts, Serenity Now, Red Dawn Vector Extra, Red Dove, Blue Silk, Lunar Wave, Ivory Wave Soothing Bath Salts, White Snow Plant Feeder, Frog Magic Plant Food, etc. What are its short term effects (long term effects are not yet known) of MDVP/bath salt use? Short-term effects include tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperthermia (increased body temperature - up to 108 degrees), pupil dialation, aggression/agitation and delirium. Users may experience a severe paranoia leading to violent behavior, causing harm to themselves or others. Effects reported to Poison Control Centers include suicidal thoughts, terror, delusions, agitation, combative/violent behavior, confusion, hallucinations/psychosis, increased heart rate, hypertension, or chest pain. The speed of onset is 15 minutes, while the “high” lasts 4 or more hours. Users have reported a compulsive desire to continuously re-dose, even following onset of the unpleasant side effects induced by prolonged use and higher doses. Users can and do become easily addicted, according to 2011 NIDA research. How are Emergency Rooms handling bath salts overdose cases? Dr. Cathleen Clancy, Associate Medical Director at the National Capital Poison Center in Washington D.C., catalogs the effects of bath salts on the area's emergency room cases. Dr. Clancy reports that users are often hyper-agitated, hot and sweating. Their heart rate and blood pressure are dangerously high, and seizures are common. Sedatives may not help them, in which case antipsychotics are tried. Death does and can occur from overdose, usually preceded by extremely high fever. Early on, doctors began noticing something else that was strange. Compared with other drugs, bath salts didn't follow a normal dose-response pattern. “Some bath salt overdose patients had to stay in the hospital for 5 days, 10 days, 14 days,” Ryan said. “In some cases, they were under heavy sedation. As you try to taper off the sedation, the paranoia came back with disturbing delusions." Why would a person want to use “Bath Salts?” Some people use stimulants, which is what bath salts are often perceived as – though they are more - to get high or escape, but most want to get energy or build endurance to make it through ordinary activities. Some people who feel overworked and overstressed try to self-medicate with stimulants. Stimulants may be attractive to “Type A” people, those often seen by others as overachievers with perfectionist tendencies. Some report heightened sociability and/or sex drive. Peer pressure or curiosity can play a large role, and often teens don’t know what the negative effects will be until it’s too late. Word of mouth can play a big part in deciding to try it, plus the price is reasonable compared to some illegal Rx drugs or cocaine. Uninformed users may think that bath salts are legal or safer than methamphetamine or cocaine. Users may think that they would not drug test positive; in fact, it is barely detectible in urine tests, but it will show in blood or plasma tests. Sources:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Prevention Connection: Prevention Requires a Community-Wide Effort

Prevention Connection: Prevention Requires a Community-Wide Effort A column on how a community working together can better fight the influence of drugs and alcohol. March 28, 2013 - The Burlington Patch The following is a guest column by Marilyn G. Belmonte of the Burlington Drug & Alcohol Task Force: The Burlington Drug & Alcohol Task Force was originally established in 1982 in response to then Governor Ed King’s pledge to reduce underage drinking and teen drug use. After creating the Governor’s Alliance Against Drugs, he encouraged communities in the Commonwealth to created their own groups to work on the problem at the grassroots level. Burlington became the first town to form a prevention coalition to deal with teen substance abuse. What are community coalitions? Community coalitions are comprised of parents, youth, school professionals, law enforcement, businesses, religious leaders, health providers and other agency leaders who are mobilizing at the local level to make their communities safer, healthier and drug-free. How do coalitions make a difference in communities? Coalition building is an effective strategy that promotes coordination and collaboration and makes efficient use of limited community resources. By connecting multiple sectors of the community in a comprehensive approach, it has been proven that community coalitions achieve real, long-lasting outcomes. "Schools, community leaders, law enforcement, policy makers, parents, and youth must work together and leverage each other's strengths and resources in order to prevent underage alcohol and drug use in communities across the country", said Charles Reynolds, Division Director of SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). Studies show that coalitions create community-wide, sustainable changes. A coalition can build a lasting base for change. Group efforts can be more easily maintained than individual efforts. A coalition of organizations can win on more fronts than a single organization working alone and increase the potential for success. A coalition can bring more expertise and resources on complex issues, where the personnel resources of any one organization would not be sufficient. Diverse backgrounds and different viewpoints will increase valuable contributions to the overall strategy for change. Coalitions avoid duplication of efforts and improve communication among key players. I have helped many other Massachusetts communities create coalitions in recent years in response to youth tragedies. I believe Burlington has been spared the level of teen deaths that other communities are experiencing because of the collaborative work of the Task Force over the past decades. But we cannot maintain the coalition and keep our youth safe without your help. If you work for the school department, health department, police department, recreation department, town offices, own a local business, are a clergy leader, or have children in our school system, please consider joining our coalition. We meet seven times a year, alternating between daytime and evening meetings. For more information, visit our Facebook page, “Burlington Drug & Alcohol Task Force” or contact us at Related Topics: Burlington Drug & Alcohol Task Force, Community Coalitions, and Prevention Connection

Monday, March 18, 2013

K2 & Synthetic Marijuana: Get the Facts

K2, also known as “spice,” is smoked like marijuana (THC), and although it is said to mimic the marijuana high, can cause severe hallucinations, dangerous seizures, cardiac aberrations, extreme anxiety and intense paranoia. Death from overdose occurs, and addiction is common. • K2 or "spice" is an herbal blend (sold in small bags of dried leaves), sprayed with synthetic compounds that behave similarly to the primary psychoactive constituent of marijuana. It is sold as incense and often marked, “not intended for human consumption,” to protect the sellers from prosecution. But, users don’t heed the warning and it is being marketed to teens as a way of getting high. * K2 is relatively inexpensive, widely available; it’s even sold at some convenience stores and gas stations. * The dried herbs come in 3-gram packages of various flavors, including "Blonde," "Pink," “Peach,” "Bizarro," "Citron," and "Summit." • Teenagers have been hospitalized, suffered severe hallucinations, increased heart rate, seizures, and even death. • K2 effects the body 5-10 minutes after use, and the effects last longer than THC. • K2 is unable to be detected in blood or urine (tests for K2 are not widely available), does not effect pupil size, produces rigid muscle tone. Authorities are very concerned . . . Some Asian and European countries, including France, Austria and Germany, already banned these products. Now the U.S. has taken action as well, and K2 has been banned by the US federal government. However, in many states, including Massachusetts, it is still legal to sell and use K2. Several towns, such as Fall River and Lynn, have implemented their own ordinances that act as a ban. Is K2 safe? 
"K2 may be a mixture of herbal and spice plant products, but it is sprayed with a potent psychotropic drug and likely contaminated with an unknown toxic substance that is causing many adverse effects. These toxic chemicals are neither natural nor safe," according to Anthony Scalzo, M.D., professor of toxicology at Saint Louis University. Barbara Carreno, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, also commented on the appeal to college students because it is a legal drug. "They don't have a sense of their own mortality yet. And with this, they're not going to get thrown in jail. It's got a lot of appeal." The drug is beginning to show up in schools in the United States and has been potentially linked to deaths related to its use. Some athletes are drawn to it because of the difficulty in detecting use. Recently, a Dallas teen who reportedly used K2 died from suspected effects of the drug. In Indiana, a young mother was reported dead after using the K2 drug. The Medical News reports that calls are coming into poison control centers all over the country about the use of K2. Sources/more information:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Marijuana use is too risky a choice By David Frum/CNN

Marijuana use is too risky a choice By David Frum, CNN Contributor updated 1:54 PM EST, Mon January 7, 2013 Editor's note: David Frum, a CNN contributor, is a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is the author of eight books, including a new novel, "Patriots," and his post-election e-book, "Why Romney Lost." Frum was a special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002. (CNN) -- Last week, I joined the board of a new organization to oppose marijuana legalization: Smart Approaches to Marijuana. The group is headed by former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and includes Kevin Sabet, a veteran of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Obama. The new group rejects the "war on drugs" model. It agrees that we don't want to lock people up for casual marijuana use -- or even stigmatize them with an arrest record. But what we do want to do is send a clear message: Marijuana use is a bad choice. There are many excellent reasons to avoid marijuana. Marijuana use damages brain development in young people. Heavy users become socially isolated and perform worse in school and at work. Marijuana smoke harms the lungs. A growing body of evidence suggests that marijuana can trigger psychotic symptoms that otherwise would have remained latent. It's possible to imagine a marijuana rule that tries to respond precisely to such risk factors as happen to be known by the current state of science. Such a rule might say: "You shouldn't use marijuana until you are over 25, or after your brain has ceased to develop, whichever comes first. You shouldn't use marijuana if you are predisposed to certain mental illnesses (most of which we can't yet diagnose in advance). Be aware that about one-sixth of users will become chronically dependent on marijuana, and as a result will suffer a serious degradation of life outcomes. As yet, we have no sure idea at what dosage marijuana will impair your ability to drive safely, or how long the impairment will last. Be as careful as you can, within the limits of our present knowledge!" Yet as a parent of three, two exiting adolescence and one entering, I've found that the argument that makes the biggest impression is: "Marijuana is illegal. Stay away." I think many other parents have found the same thing. When we write social rules, we always need to consider: Who are we writing rules for? Some people can cope with complexity. Others need clarity. Some people will snap back from an early mistake. Others will never recover. At a time when our youth need more help than ever to climb the ladder, marijuana legalization kicks them back down the ladder. The goal of public policy should not be to punish vulnerable kids for making life-wrecking mistakes. The goal of public policy should be to protect (to the extent we can) the vulnerable from making life-wrecking mistakes in the first place. There's a trade-off, yes, and it takes the form of denying less vulnerable people easy access to a pleasure they believe they can safely use. But they are likely deluding themselves about how well they are managing their drug use. And even if they are not deluded -- if they really are so capable and effective -- then surely they can see that society has already been massively re-engineered for their benefit already. Surely, enough is enough? Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.