Living on a farm is one of the most idyllic lifestyles. Farm families get to see the sun rise and set each day while they are working, growing food to keep tables full. So I was caught completely off guard recently when a visiting cousin from Florida, who is a doctor, asked why is it that rural America youth has a higher percentage of alcohol and drug usage compared to the rest of America?

Recently, we had the privilege of listening to Dr. Christian Thurstone, Medical  Director of the Substance Abuse Treatment, Education, and Prevention Program at Denver Health and Hospital Authority. Dr. Thurstone has witnessed the devastation ‘legal’ marijuana has created in Colorado. Marijuana advertisers design campaigns that target young people, which is especially shameful because young people suffer the most negative consequences.

Research shows our brains continue to develop until we are in our mid-twenties; specifically, the prefrontal cortex, the part that does the reasoning and organizing. And substance abuse at an early age can prevent the brain from fully reaching its intellectual potential. Now that’s a scary thought – I have always counted on my children to have more sagacious output than I’ve ever had. The modern world is complex, and I’m hoping to lean on them as these senior moments increase!

The ‘weed’ of today in not the same weed of the seventies. It is much stronger, thus much more addictive. The THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant once was two percent, but now can be as high as forty percent. There are 400 known chemicals in marijuana – a single joint (marijuana cigarette) contains four times as much cancer-causing tar as a filtered cigarette. And perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is the fact that the I.Q. of babies born to mothers who have ‘used’ while pregnant can be reduced.

It takes a lot of self-control, wisdom, intellect to be successful at any job, especially farming. In our rural areas, we need to be alert to this ‘invader’ that can destroy the potential of the people we intend to turn our farms over to in the future.


Marijuana Marketing Targeting Youth: Legal in Colorado, but every else  illegally crossing state lines: Pot Tarts, Budda Finga, even soda pots. They look amazingly like the real 'innocent' products.