Editorial: On marijuana and kids, it's time to get smart

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The arrest of a young man last week on charges that he allegedly sold marijuana to high school students raises some interesting questions about our relationship with the drug, and how it could change if and when it's legalized for recreational possession and use in Vermont.

This is surely not the first time that kids have purchased marijuana in Manchester. But that's not in any way intended to lessen the seriousness of these serious allegations.

We don't want our high school students being sold drugs. To that end, Manchester Police are to be commended for their efforts in enforcing the law; the rest is up to the criminal justice system and whether the state can prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the meantime, history tells us that kids will still find a way to acquire and use marijuana, the same way they have figured out how to get their hands on alcohol. Whether the supply remains as illicit as a package hidden in a stone wall or as legal as brownies for sale in a storefront, the drug will still be available.

It seems inevitable that Vermont will eventually legalize recreational marijuana possession, and quite possible that it will match Massachusetts in finding ways to legalize the sale of the drug, lest all the tax revenue it could realize from the sale of the drug disappear in a cloud of smoke just over the state line.

In the meantime, as we consider ending the legal double standard on marijuana, we need to helping children — and their parents — make smart decisions when it comes to prevention and education.

To that end, Burr and Burton Academy acting headmaster Meg Kenny says the school is doing everything it can — educating kids on the facts, working with The Collaborative's "Refuse to Use" program to promote substance-free choices, remaining vigilant for signs of drug use, and laying down the law when kids make mistakes. Those efforts are worthy of your support.

If and when legalization happens, what will happen to consumption when kids can get older friends to buy them weed legally, or steal it from their parents — the same methods they've been using to procure alcohol for generations? Will we see an increase in youth use? And how do we prepare for that?

The state's study of the issue would be wise to consider those factors along with the implications for adults.

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