Guest column: Bridging the median of the medical marijuana debate | TahoeDailyTribune.com

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Guest column: Bridging the median of the medical marijuana debate

With the recent passage of Prop 64 in California and Question 2 in Nevada, both of which legalized recreational cannabis, there is an extremely polarized spotlight on cannabis and its role in our community.

There are those who support the use of medical and recreational use, and conversely, those who hold a firm stance against the substance. As an advocate for middle school-aged youth in our community, I strongly believe there is an evident negative influence that cannabis breeds on young people.

Currently, the culture of South Lake Tahoe has manufactured easy access and acceptability for the use of cannabis. Unfortunately, this has permeated to the young, with experimentation beginning as early as elementary school.

Aside from the extreme cases of early exposure and potential long-term addiction, there is now an underlying but ever-present environment of generalized normalcy for teens where cannabis is expected to arise amongst the various challenges of typical peer pressure.

So, I reside in the median

— divided and unable to make a stance. I see the detrimental harm, and I see the value for those experiencing chronic pain. I see the misuse and abuse, and I see the treatment. And more importantly, I see the lack of education of how to manage the use and regulation of cannabis.

With coping skills and resiliency weakening and anxiety and depression increasing for youth, marijuana presents a dangerous barrier to producing successful and thriving adults. Instead of seeking out solutions and healthy outlets, youth are turning to marijuana as a quick-fix to bigger problems.

Here's the truth though: That's only one side of the coin. There are many others, including those in my close circle of friends and family, who are suffering from conditions where the medical component of cannabis, cannabidiol or CBD, is proving to be positively life changing. For example, I've watched CBD help a family friend who has spent years suffering from extensive nerve damage following a car accident with no previous success from traditional prescription remedies.

So, I reside in the median — divided and unable to make a stance. I see the detrimental harm, and I see the value for those experiencing chronic pain. I see the misuse and abuse, and I see the treatment. And more importantly, I see the lack of education of how to manage the use and regulation of cannabis.

Hence, it is a fundamental necessity that we navigate the unknown territory of cannabis' effect on the public sphere through widespread education across sectors. The once private, individual choice to smoke, ingest and use marijuana exists now as a societal issue where there is a magnifying glass on the who, what, where, when and why.

We are undergoing a significant influence to how we define our culture in our town. Therefore, what lies in the middle of both sides of the extremes is the median that offers the opportunity to unite around the need for research, education and comprehensive resources that includes youth to the elderly who may suffer or benefit from cannabis.

Out of the forces of duality across this issue, the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals (TRYP) are hosting a Tahoe Town Hall to address the recent legalization of cannabis with an expert panel. The intention of the upcoming Tahoe Town Hall on Wednesday, April 19, is to inspire a community-wide conversation where both sides of the coin are unturned. The event will be from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Tahoe Beach Retreat Conference Center, and is free and open to the public. The forum offers our community an unbiased platform to learn, share and ultimately collaborate on building best practices to protect our youth while also utilizing the new taxation to bolster our economy and build a strong South Lake Tahoe.

Come join us on April 19 to participate as we confront the challenges and realities of the new laws. Let's break the barriers of opposition, discovering the median where we can be informed and engaged.

Hannah Greenstreet is a member of the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals civic engagement committee.