A while ago, Younger Boy informed us that there is a drug problem at his school.
This, in a junior high.
“What!” I said. “Are you having problems getting drugs?”
We had a good laugh, and then the discussion turned serious.
I repeated what we’ve told the boys many times before, that when someone asks if they want to buy drugs, the proper response is, “No thanks.”
The president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils wants police officers to have more involvement and presence in schools. As a parent, I say, no thanks.
Thievery, bullying and violence should be, and can be, dealt with by teachers and principals. If they ever need to call in the cops, so be it.
But having police officers regularly patrolling the hallways will send the wrong message to students — that teachers and principals don’t, and can’t, control the school.
When we send our kids to school, we entrust their care and safety to teachers and principals. If schools need help from cops to do that, there is something seriously wrong with the education system, and thank you very much for not bringing up the irrelevant example of the occasional school shooting in the U.S.
As for drugs, the issue is far more serious than some skeet dealing out of his (or her) locker.
Police officers have been to the school as part of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program. That’s fine, as far as it goes. But there’s a built-in bias, and it’s highly doubtful the police officers give students both sides of the story.
Younger Boy asked me, “Why do some people do drugs?”
He meant everybody, adults included, not just teenagers.
“Because it makes them feel good,” I said.
I wonder if the DARE officers have ever dared to tell students that.
Of course drugs make people feel good. Thus the term “high.”
Thus the sale of billions of bottles of booze.
Thus the massive illegal drug trade.
But why, he wanted to know, do some people become addicted and use drugs all the time?
“Because they’re bored with life,” I told him.
(If you can, try to imagine something more boring than listening to a bunch of stoners talk about getting stoned.)
Almost everything about the drug issue is backwards. It is an accepted truism that drug use leads to ruined lives.
On the contrary, it is bored, disinterested, ruined lives that lead to drug abuse. There’s a vast difference.
The essential fact about drugs is their illegality. But our primary concern should be safety.
Never mind the moralizing, the preaching and the ongoing prohibition. If we really want to keep our kids safe, we should legalize drugs. And not just marijuana, but the whole shooting match, if you’ll pardon the pun. Legalization would also have the happy coincidence of decimating the violent organized criminals and gangs who haul in bank-like profits from the drug trade.
Granted, illegal drugs can be dangerous. But again, the law has it backwards. They’re not illegal because they’re dangerous. They’re dangerous largely because they’re illegal.
The next time you see cops in the news boasting about a 20-pound bust, ask yourself: would that hemp be hazardous if you had grown it in your garden? No. It’s dangerous because, as news reports remind us, dealers lace their products with chemicals to add to their potency.
There are flickers of sanity. The residents of several states in the U.S. recently voted to legalize marijuana.
I look forward to someday having this conversation:
“Dad, I’m going to the liquor store to buy a couple of joints.”
“Oh no you’re not.”
Brian Jones is a desk editor at
The Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.