Open letter to a kid I do not know

A good friend I've never met in person is going through some trying times right now. Among those challenges is a grandson, almost the same age as my own son, who recently lost the only father figure he's ever known. To add insult to injury, he was recently caught in possession of a small amount of cannabis at his school. Even though cannabis is legal for adults to use in that state, it's still a serious no-no for minors and the school apparently turned him over to the legal system, and I fear little good will come of that.

Those who have followed my various blogs over the last ten years or there about know I am a strong advocate for the legalization of cannabis (marijuana, reefer, pot) for adults to use any way they see fit. I've also made no secret of the fact that I began my relationship with cannabis at far too early an age.

I was thirteen years old the day I took my first toke. I have wished many times in the thirty-five years since then that I had been a few years older. Perhaps if there had been a legal framework in place to regulate access to such things I would not have even had the opportunity.

I'm one of the lucky ones as far as drug use goes; I never got caught. I wish I could say it was my superior intellect and cunning that kept me from ever spending a night in jail or finding my way to harder drugs and even greater problems, but it wasn't. Most of the reason I'm not walking around with a criminal record or even dead at this point comes down to nothing but pure dumb luck. Most are not so lucky.

So here's the deal kid: walk away from the weed for now. When you have had a few more years of life experience and you are of legal age to consume it, the weed will still be there. Hell, it will probably be better and cheaper than it is now, but more important, you will be better; better prepared for the mountain of bullshit life throws at all of us, better educated and able to make smart decisions about your life and your future.

When I should have been busy learning how to deal with other people, learning the skills I would need to get into, not to mention graduate from college, I was busy smoking pot and doing a whole lot of nothing. Money I could have used for a car, entertainment, college, or a house went up in smoke for over thirty years instead.

Today I own my own business and recently bought my first home, but I wonder how much sooner these things would have happened and how much richer my life might be had I waited even just five years and started smoking pot when I was 18 instead of 13. 

I wanted to be an artist when I was your age. It took me twenty years longer than it should have to produce my first real work of art. How much sooner would that have happened if I hadn't become a pot head at such an early age? How much better would my work be now? How much more might my paintings be worth?

Look, I know you're living through a shitstorm right now, and I wish I could snap my fingers and make everything right, but no one can. The only person who really has any control over your life and your future right now, or any time, is you. Don't make the bad decisions you'll see many of your friends making in the next few years. You will regret them for far longer than you know.

I hope you decide to live without medicating, legal or otherwise, but if you decide cannabis is right for you, please at least wait until you've finished your education and reached physical maturity.

Most people aren't like me, aren't so lucky. I have many friends and family members who started where and when I did, smoking weed before or after school at way too young an age, and most of them have either gone on to hard drugs, done hard prison time, both, or worse, died. Don't be one of those people. Give yourself a chance. I saw something about the football team you play on winning a championship. That won't happen if you keep smoking weed now.

Life may seem pretty rotten sometimes, and sometimes it really is, but getting high doesn't fix those things. You might forget about the problems for a little bit, but then they come back, bigger and badder and harder to solve.

You're a bright kid, stick with your grandma, she's a pretty bright bulb and she won't lead you wrong. If you ever need to talk, she can put us in touch. Stay strong and take care of yourself. In the end you're all you've really got.
Originally posted at red clay blues.

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