I was thirteen the first time I smoked weed.
There’s a funny little anecdote I like to tell about this experience. My boyfriend at the time (my first real boyfriend) was using the word ‘weed’, until he suddenly switched it up and said ‘this is some good marijuana’.
I remember thinking, ‘whoa… weed and marijuana are the SAME thing’.
It’s an anecdote that usually garners a little laugh at parties, but it grows a lot sadder the longer you think about it. I was far too young to being smoking cannabis, and the stuff my boyfriend gave me was far too strong. The second time I smoked it, still aged thirteen, I ‘greened out’. The teenagers I was hanging out with (older than me, but completely irresponsible) were in no way equipped to deal with my situation. Thankfully, at least in that instance, nothing severely untoward happened.
But that’s not always the case. Smoking cannabis at age thirteen sounds extreme, as if it’s an anomaly, but it’s not. Several of my close girlfriends were also given marijuana between the ages of thirteen and fifteen and, importantly, that marijuana was given to them by older boys.
A few years later, the Roast Busters story blew up.
The story caused a schism through my community. Without technically knowing those boys – I knew those boys. They were the same type of boys who plied me with substances. They went to the same schools. They may have scored from the very same dealers.
Cannabis prohibition doesn’t keep anyone safe. Prohibition – the outright banning of a substance – casts dangerous things out of the public gaze. It means we don’t have to look at certain situations. It means a thirteen-year-old girl smoking weed is breaking the law, and therefore feels disempowered to tell anyone about it. Even if something far worse also occurred. It means a situation like the one I was in at age thirteen is left to the police to deal with – and we’ve seen how that turns out.
Prohibition also means that no one is responsible for regulating the strength and make-up of a substance. The stuff I smoked at age thirteen, and again, several times throughout my adolescence, caused me great harm. It was very strong and there’s no way of knowing if there was anything else in it. Legalisation would place safety guards on all of this.
The War on Drugs was a failed experiment. You can find illegal drugs in any corner of this country – banning the stuff only makes it more dangerous. By contrast, throwing it into the light means we can safeguard and educate.
I shouldn’t have been smoking weed at age thirteen, and I shouldn’t have been hanging out with those boys. But it’s naïve to think you can ‘ban’ your children out of those types of situations. I grew up in a good, Christian household and I still ended up there. The smartest, most pragmatic action we can take is to keep our children safe. That means throwing open the curtain and legalising. Legal, strictly controlled weed is safer than illegal, out of control weed.
For more information on keeping safe around drugs, check out The REAL Drug Talk.Support Villainesse