By Sarah Teasdale, MD, EdM pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Hospital Boston
It was near midnight about a year ago when I noticed a gaunt young man in his early twenties walking toward me in the Emergency Department. It was a young man who, about a decade earlier, had threatened to kill me.
For nearly ten years prior to becoming a physician I was a high school teacher. That particular July, I was teaching English in summer school for students who had failed the class during the regular school year. It was a group of 15 surly teenagers ages 14 to 19, beaten down by a system in which they could not—or chose not—to succeed.
The young man—I’ll call him Andre—was my student that summer. He was a gangly, thin 15-year-old who often wore the same ill-fitting clothes day after day, rarely made eye contact and showed a level of fatigue in the early morning that was extreme, even for a teenager. Whenever I tried to talk to him, he would simply say he was “a’right.” He meant: Stop asking.
So I stopped asking. In doing so, I lost a chance to help him. …
Tragic stories of teens being bullied and ostracized at school have been saturating media headlines. But while these tales are making news, there’s another story to be told: that of homosexual teens’ estrangement—even banishment—from their families.
According to the recent Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS), one in four teens who identify themselves as lesbian or gay are homeless, and a study in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) says that it’s more likely that these teens are being driven out of their homes by their parents. Supporting this are findings from studies of homeless youth living apart from their families. One such study shows that 73 percent of homeless gay and lesbian teens indicated that they were homeless because their parents disapproved of their sexual orientation. …
Can you imagine McDonald’s targeting marijuana smokers, touting the Big Mac as a cure for the ‘munchies?’ What if Oprah opened a clinic to distribute medical marijuana in a building that looks and functions like a doctor’s office?
As unlikely as these marketing ideas may sound, they’re not far off from reality:
Last week, Jim Hagedorn, the chief executive of lawn care giant Scotts Miracle-Gro, told the Wall Street Journal that his company was interested in reaching out to medical marijuana growers as potential customers.
“I want to target the pot market,” Hagedorn said in the interview. “There’s no good reason we haven’t.”
That same afternoon, former daytime TV staple, Montel Williams, announced that he had opened a brand new Californian medical marijuana dispensary. Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, says the effects of marijuana has helped ease his pain in a way traditional medication couldn’t and hopes his ‘high end’ dispensary can help remove some of the stigma around use of the drug.
So, if celebrity endorsements and corporate backing were any indication, it would appear that a significant portion of the population supports medical marijuana. Or, in the very least, support it as long as they can profit from it. …
After nearly a decade of declining popularity, marijuana use among teenagers is on the rise—at a time when use of the drug is becoming more socially acceptable and has an increasingly benign reputation. According to a study released by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, 25 percent of U.S. teens reported smoking marijuana in the last month, up 6 percent from previous years.
Coincidentally, marijuana’s popularity boost is being reported just as science sheds new light on its harmful effects. The British Medical Journal recently released a study showing young people who smoke marijuana regularly double their risk of developing psychotic symptoms as they grow older. It’s one of many studies published in the past few weeks indicating that marijuana may not be as benign a drug as some people think. …