Thursday, February 20, 2020

Pot and prom

This isn’t a piece about legalizing pot—something that makes logical sense and we can discuss more as the November election approaches—but rather a piece about choices and their intersection with pot and local kids in Crested Butte. This is a piece about how good alternatives are being encouraged and were actually chosen in a situation where bad choices are not uncommon.

I’ve received some concerned comments about the two photo pages we ran in last week’s newspaper. One showed scenes from the local high school prom. The other showed scenes from the April 20 Townie Takeover. Some felt the 4/20 townie takeover photos were a nod on our part to glorify smoking pot and sent mixed messages to our kids, who were celebrating prom the same week.
Those are legitimate concerns and we appreciate the feedback. The comments gave me a chance to further reflect on the decision to run the photos. And upon further consideration, I think we’d run both again. The two events are both reflective of the community and its values.

Let’s be honest about the discussion.
There is a lot of pot in this town. Some of it is “legal” through the state’s medical marijuana laws. All of it is still illegal under federal laws banning the herb. Both can be obtained pretty easily. For the kids growing up in a somewhat transient resort town with a college (I mean, university) down the road, it is there. Every local kid is exposed to marijuana at a relatively young age. Whether smelling it while riding the chairlift, seeing medical marijuana ads on the bus or watching older kids use it, pot is prevalent in Crested Butte. So it comes down to reality and choices.
The Community School teachers and administrators are aware. There have been substance abuse issues (alcohol and drugs) at previous proms. So this year they proactively took action. They brought in Brooke Harless of the Gunnison County Substance Abuse Prevention Project (GCSAPP) before prom and worked with the students on the impacts of substance abuse for people their age. They held open discussions and used real life examples. And by all accounts, it worked. This year’s prom was a rousing success. The kids all had a great time without drugs and alcohol. The local kids made good choices.

And honestly, that will be the way of their world as they grow older. Life is about choices. Pot isn’t going to go away, especially in resort communities like Crested Butte. Our kids will have a lot of exposure to the drug and alcohol culture. They will “experiment.” Parties are a part of the culture of this place. The main street of town certainly has more than its share of drinking establishments. PBR seems to be the official drink of Crested Butte. Some people here seem to dress up and party if the day begins with birds chirping. Townie takeovers spring up monthly.
To ignore our realities would not make them go away. But to accept the culture head-on and offer our children good, age appropriate alternatives—and then see them actually make the good choices—is another reason to be proud of the young adults this village is producing. Nice work, teachers. Nice work, kids.

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