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Teens smoking pot in the park

On an afternoon run through a park, I passed a cluster of teens, all of them happened to be female.  They were standing in a circle, maybe 5 or 6 of them.  Maybe more?  There were puffs of smoke rising from the center of the circle.  From a distance, it seemed that they were hanging out smoking cigarettes.  And, recalling my own teen years, I thought: "who doesn't hang out with a gaggle of friends and smoke at that age?"

As I came closer, I realized that they were actually passing a small pipe.  And, I realized that they weren't smoking cigarettes, they were smoking marjuiana.  I ran past them, not stopping.  I thought to myself, though: "should I stop?"  If I did, what would I do?  What would I say?  What would you do?

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I have the non emergency police number in my phone for things like this. Yes, pot is de-criminalized here. That doesn't mean I want my little kids to think its okay to do drugs. They need to find somewhere else to be. Maybe the cops would tell them to move along at the very least!

I'm not sure what would be accomplished by stopping. I wouldn't, nor would I call the police. I'm wondering what you would say if you stopped?

The New York Times Well column has recently had some pieces on increasing marijuana use, especially among young adults:
Smoking Marijuana Does Not Harm Lungs, Study Finds
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/marijuana-smoking-does-not-harm-lungs-study-finds/

Marijuana Use Increasing Among Teenagers
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/marijuana-growing-in-popularity-among-teenagers/

This happens often at Grant Park (logically, since the high school's right there). The funny part is that the kids seem to think they're being so discreet and we grownups don't know what they're up to.

I don't stop, or glare. It won't make a difference. Fortunately, my children don't yet distinguish between legal/illegal smoking, and simply say (in that marvelously loud, self-righteous voice of the young), "Yuck! Why are they doing that? Smoking is bad, don't they know that?" Tends to make at least one teen in the group look askance...

We live close to Jefferson High, and kids hang out on my street smoking marijuana everyday at lunchtime. I am in awe of their lack of fear of getting caught. I was unloading my son and groceries from the car one day and asked them to please not smoke pot in the driveway. They were very confrontational, even after I explained that I didn't want my son around it. A girl in the group responded by saying she has a baby and is a good mom...as she took her turn with the joint. I finally just asked them to walk and smoke vs standing where I could smell it. I called the cops and was met with a nonchalant response of "just pot?". I am sure getting high at lunch does wonders for learning. It is illegal, right? I discussed this with a teen I mentor and she confirmed that smoking marijuana is prevalent in her school too. Why don't the cops care more? Or the high schools? My high school did not allow us to leave campus during the school day. Makes sense to me since school is for learning. Should we allow kids to drink alcohol too? I plan on writing a letter to the superintendent at Jefferson, although I am sure they are aware of the situation.

Maybe the teens are so nonchalent about it because no one does anything to tell them it's not acceptable behavior (and illegal, as well!)

If no one ever says anything, nothing changes.

I would probably say something, as long as it seemed safe to do so.

I have spoken out to teens/pre-teens at our neighborhood park (also right next to the high school) about foul language.

My neighborhood park (Clinton) is clearly a park designed for younger children, and certain behaviors should simply not be tolerated.

For the situation in the original post, I think you should just keep going. Calling the police on young people who are not a threat to anyone doesn't improve their future prospects - just read the reports about the School to Prison Pipeline. Even if police cared about pot smoking in the park, their job isn't to refer kids to resources and scarred straight approaches have proven to be unsuccessful.

If young people were smoking anything near my kid on the playground, I'd ask them to move. In the situation near a school, I agree with informing the school. I don't know what schools are doing around drug education, but maybe knowing that kids were smoking during lunch could lead to real world education about marijuana - ie it won't kill you, mixing it with other things can put you in a dangerous place, and use can limit whatever your goals for the future are. Sorry for the length. I spend a lot of time on addictions policy and know punitive, criminal justice/police approach hasn't and won't work if we want to decrease substance misuse.

I own a small retail business and one afternoon I looked up to see a group of 3 or 4 teens across the street smoking. I figured it was a cigarette until one of the guys bent over coughing in that manner that clearly indicates pot smoking.

I stuck my head out of the door and yelled across the street, "That's why god invented alleys. Nobody needs to see that sh*t."

However, I also think smoking pot is preferable to drinking and even smoking cigarettes. I also think calling the police for something like that is a bit overboard. It's not going to get the kids to stop and in the worst case scenario that kid is going to end up with a record, for what? Making a stupid decision as a 17 y/o.? Don't be passive aggressive and call the cops, just ask the kids to take it somewhere else.

I am a high school teacher. In my experience, the school does care. If you know where the kids attend and it is happening near the school (and during school hours), why not call the school? They can hopefully help the kids to make better choices and refer kids to counseling when necessary.

I think I would mind my own business....@lolo, you asked "why the cops don't care more?". Let me explain: it's a geographic/demographic thing. Police in NE portland could give a rats behind about the minority/low income students from jefferson,unless they're posing a physical threat to a more elite demographic. And that's just how it is.

I live near Lincoln and there is a ton of drug use around there as well and it's out in the open. I honestly think it's a Portland thing.

Keep walking.

I'm sorry, but when I was a teen and we used to walk around with beer cans, the cops would stop and take our beer. They would very rarely arrest anyone, but they would stop up from what we are doing. Why is pot any different? I think the police SHOULD be notified of illegal drug use in the park, or underaged drinking. I don't understand why the attitude has changed so much. Is this generation of kids so much more precious than we were at that age, that we need to protect them from natural consequences of their behavior? This is not ok and I cannot turn away from it.

I agree about the preciousness comment Debby. I had heard recently that this generation coming up through high school and college now are called the tea cup generation or something like that because they are so fragile. Protecting kids from natural consequences is a disaster in the making.

I also wonder if respect for authority is lower than in the 80s when I was in school. We always had the decency to hide our beer/pot/cigarettes when adults happened by. Kids openly breaking the law should never be ignored if you ask me.

I wouldn't have stopped. I would have called the non-emergency number for the police. I don't expect them to go arrest the kids, but it often results in increased patrolling of the area, which I always think is good. I live in a relatively tame section of NE crime wise, and I think it's because people do notify authorities when crimes happen. I saw drunk guy peeing on a neighbor's tree a few months ago, and called the non emergency number - they came out and looked for him. My husband saw a drug deal at the nearby max station, and called the non-emergency number. They increased patrols. If you care about your community, take notice and do something.

ANd, I totally agree on the consequences. I did my fair share of underaged drinking, but I never would have done it in public like that. Children need to learn consequences for their actions. Honestly, if my kid were doing something stupid in the park like that, I'd want to know. And, if I wasn't there to see it, I'd hope someone passing by would do something - like call the police.

I don't punish my kids for everything they do wrong, but I DO make them respect authority, and they do get consequences for bad behavior. Hovering and bailing kids out will just create a bigger problem as those kids become adults.

I was thinking more about this. I agree that scared straight approaches can backfire. However, I believe strongly that kids need to have consequences. So, in this case, a teenager doing drugs in the park - the consequence I'd give my own kid is some mandatory drug counseling and community service cleaning up that park. Two consequences directly related to what they did wrong -- one to clean up themselves, and the other to clean up the community. Neither of these are "scared straight" things - not advocating getting arrested for making a stupid decision. I am advocating that they need to take responsibility for themselves and for the community they live in. it's not an approach that works for everyone, but I think it's better than ignoring the problem.

I had a co-worker approach police about homeless teens smoking pot in the park blocks and she was told that there was nothing that could be done about it.

Naw don't stop. Or if you do tell them not to be so stupid as to smoke weed in a public park. I would have chastised them from smoking cigs more so. Cigarettes kill pot just makes you dumb. They'll grow out of it.

I practice medicine in Portland. I can tell you that many "don't grow out of it!"

How many kids "grow out" of smoking cigarettes? I know dozens of grown up people who are trying desperately to give up smoking, both cigs and pot, some in their 40's and 50's who have been smoking since they were young teens (I'm a therapist in community mental health). How do they grow out of it? By having a community that cares enough to tell them that it is not a good idea to reject authority and be coddled. When I drank beer in public (once) I knew it was a bad idea and it scared me, and sure enough, the cops came by and took the beer. If I got away with it all the time, I might have continued to do it, thinking no one cared and I was above it all. What would be the next step? Driving somewhere and drinking in public and then driving home. And if there were no consequences to that? I would keep doing it until God forbid, something terrible happened.

And food for thought....these girls, who are now impaired on pot....they have to walk home from the park, some alone. Does anyone else think this makes them really vulerable to some creepy people who look for kids like this????

Debby,
I agree with that last part. How hard would it be to overpower a high teenager? So scary.

@Working Mom--it is most assuredly not a "Portland thing" or even an "urban thing". Plenty of rural and suburban kids also smoke pot and drink (actually they're statiscally MORE likely to do so).

Anyway, I'd ignore it, myself. I vividly recall MY 1980's high school days in NYC (at a top, nationally acclaimed magnet school) in which students routinely smoked and drank in full daytime, public view. I even remember kids huffing ether. And this was 30 years ago, with IVY League bound kids.

Do I approve of this behavior or want to see my daughter engaging in any of this behavior? Absolutely not. But do I think it's fairly typical teen behavior? Yes. I also think our stretched to the limit thin police departments are better deployed in other areas, as well.

I didn't grow up here and I have lived in several cities and haven't seen the magnitude of open marijuana use that I've seen here. I'm going to disagree with you and say that it seems more culturally acceptable here and clearly not a priority to law enforcement.

zumpie, I have to ask. Where did you go to school? It sounds an awful lot like my school, although I attended in the early 90s.

@Working mom: every city I've ever visited has had much the same level of teen behavior you mentioned. And I, too, have lived all over the country. Have you perhaps lived predominately in smaller, more conservative cities?

@ema Stuyvesant (before the fancy new building on the Westside Highway). Where did you go? :-)

As I think of it, such behavior was/is quite common in MANY of NYC's "better" public and private schools. Like Dwight being known as Dumb White Idiots Getting High Together, etc. Actually MY mom told me that Dwight was like that when SHE went to school in the 1950's.

To those of you who think that drinking or smoking pot is a right of passage for teenages, just keep this in mind: when we were kids, there was no 4 Loco or bud (I mean pot bud, not the beer). What kids today are smoking is not the same thing that we had access to as teens (remember twigs and seeds? History.). This stuff is potent. It is NOT natural (hydroponics, anyone?) and it is NOT safe. Please look up the facts about today's drugs before thinking it is a just a bit of innocent child's play.

To be honest, I didn't indulge all that much---but I still do think it IS much the same thing:

About 4 Loco, the drinking age used to be lower and kids (like everyone else) simply drank more. Also there WAS Everclear. So pretty much the same thing.

As I mentioned upthread, I remember kids huffing ether--which is a LOT more dangerous than smoking pot. And back in the day, it was fairly common to lace pot with first angel dust and other assorted additives.

The issue here isn't should kids smoke pot and drink---absolutely they shouldn't. Then and now. BUT.....I'm certainly not going to freak out, call the cops etc...because it still IS kids being kids.

Also....about pot being illegal: it's only a matter of time before it's decriminalized. Even as a non-consumer I support it on the basis of freedom of choice, government isn't there to legislate morality, social pot smoking is no more dangerous than social drinking (frankly cigarettes are the most toxic) and (of course) the medical benefits. To say nothing of the jobs and tax revenue it would create (and all the $$$ we'd no longer waste trying unsuccessfully to control it).

That said, like sex and drinking--it's something I view as for adults, not kids. But I still wouldn't busybody my way into it. Drug dealer? Obviously. Kids hanging out, smoking (of any v ariety) and drinking. Still not that big a deal. And been done, like, forever...

Zumpie, I have to disagree. Taking part in an illegal substance that you illegally acquired is not just "kids being kids".

And folks have been crying for pot to be legal since the early seventies. Hasn't happened yet. So until then, folks who do partake have to bump into shady characters to get their weed. Not cool for families, or their teens.

Even if pot is legal, it doesn't change anything. Alcohol is legal, and obviously that doesn't mean that it is ok to partake anytime, anywhere, especially in public parks where children are present. If pot becomes legal, all it does is validate what addicts have been saying all along....it's not dangerous and I'm justified in smoking/eating/otherwise injesting it and I am not responsible for any of my actions during the time of use. I would certainly hope that if pot became legal beyond medical marijuana, that there would be a "smoking age" and it would be older than the teen years.

For your viewing pleasure...take the time to learn about the drug:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsC4IZhlx4I

Give me a break, people. It's pot, not crack. If you don't make a big stink about it in front of your kids, they won't know what it is. Why draw attention to it? They'll probably just think it's a cigarette. If they were shooting up dope in the park, yeah, I'd be pretty disturbed. That is something people don't need to see.

@Debby--what do you mean there was no pot when you were a kid? Of course there was! You just weren't around it.

@Wilson mom, laws regarding marijuana have been loosened considerably since the 1970's---as well as a change in perception, etc. Just as eventually there will be gay marriage (again, gay rights have increased incrementally, though we're not yet at full equality), so eventually will be the case with pot.

I'm pretty sure the "illegal source" from which they obtained their pot was another kid at school, BTW. Plus plenty of legal prescription drugs are far more dangerous. Alcohol was illegal during prohibiiton (and plenty of law abiding people consumed it, anyway).

I find the " but it's illegal" argument to be a bit circa 1955. I'm surprised no one's yakking about "gateway drug".

@Debby---I think I made it pretty clear that I view consumption of marijuana should be relegated to adults. Just like tobacco and alcohol. That video was really good, but I pretty much all of that already. Those stats are precisely WHY I support legalization.

To prove my point---on the books for the next http://newapproachwa.org/ election in WA

@zumpie, Ha! I'm a Stuy kid too. One year in the old building, one year in the new, and then I transferred to an alternative school. Your description just sounded far too familiar.

@ema, had a feeling! I actually found Stuy pretty awesome, in fact I'm still friends with many of my compadres. I guess that was just Stuy culture.

Shelly, where did I say I wasn't around pot when I was a kid? I said that the pot today is different than when we were kids. We didn't have BUD back then, just leaves. It is modified today to be more potent. Marajuana unmodified is hemp. It grows in the forest and is great for rope, not so great for getting high, just a mild buzz. Modified, there are no seeds and a large bud. That is what kids today are smoking. We had to pick out twigs and seeds and "weed" through to find the good stuff. We always ended up with a baggie filled with "compost." And yes, it is not crack, but as an alcohol and drug counselor who works in a mental health agency, I can tell you that marijuana is just the first step for a lot of kids. We, who did not get addicted, might think it is crap to think of marijuana as a "gateway" drug, but it is for a lot of people, and if we can intervene before it gets to this point, we can avoid a lot of grief later. I think the problem we have in our society today is the attitude that it's "just pot." Sorry people, it is still a mind altering drug. You can make a choice as an adult if you want to partake, but it is up to the adult in our society to monitor the kids. Some might be able to withstand some "innocent" experimentation, but others might not, especially the ones that come from homes where drugs are accepted as the norm, and many of the kids are actually stealing the pot from older family members. If not, then they are buying it from dealers. Either way, this is not something I think should be ignored, even if it isn't crack.

@Debby, under your argument then, you would also call the police on kids smoking cigarettes (more addictive and more deadly) or consuming alcohol (more addictive, more deadly, associated with violence and also a gateway drug)?

Thanks, Debby. It's not "just pot" and for a few it does have terrible impact on the user's future. Also, if you are breaking one law.. who's to say it won't be easier for you to break more in the future? Its a slippery slope I don't want my kids on.

We don't use and we don't have friends who use.

@zumpie, me too. Well, in any case, hello to a fellow pegleg : )

I graduated in 1996. Out of the 3 *very* different high schools I attended, in regards to school size, city vs rural, homogenous vs diverse, the percentage of marajuana use (and I am included in that percentage) was surprisingly pretty equal regardless of the school.  Myself included, most of the people I smoked with as a teenage no longer partake or do so very infrequently as a mid-30's adult. While all of those schools provided some form of drug & alcohol use awareness, I personally don't remember thinking about any of the "risks" that I learned about in health class before partaking pot or alcohol. Did we hide it from our parents? Absolutely. Did any of us get caught occasionally and suffer consequences both at home and school? Absolutely. (one boy in my first high school committed suicide his senior year after being arrested for marajuana distribution and facing 10+ years in jail). Of all the schools, the alcohol consumption at the white wealthy rural school was the worst, there was very little alcohol or drug use at the ethnically-diverse performing arts school, and the drug use far outweighed the alcohol use at the white middle class suburban school. But across the board, the alcohol abuse at all 3 schools was way more of a problem than any drug use I witnessed, and as an adult now I know far more high school acquaintences with adult alcoholic problems than any one that struggles with drug substance addictions. 

I just want to reiterate that at the rural school I went to there was a lot of alcohol consumption because there were few activities to do on a Sat night for teenagers, little after school activities, and parents who had long commutes to/from work each day which meant little supervision after school. This equaled boredom, lack of passion, and the money to buy fake IDs and alcohol... Yeah, we all got our homework done after-school but after that, PARTY! Note that this HS was a closed campus which meant we stayed for lunch, but had little affect on after school consumption. I strongly feel that the LACK of substance abuse at the ethnically diverse performing arts high school I attended was greatly due to the fact that these kids were engaged with after school/weekend activities and performances and passionate about their extracurricular interests. The same partly goes for the middle class suburban school I attended last two years of high school which was rich in athletics, after-school clubs to attend, and was in an area that actually had all ages activities available like dance clubs, bands, coffee shops, etc that you could get into under 18. Granted, I think substance issues becomes an even bigger problem at the college age, but that's another conversation.

All this to say, I think Portland has a BIG problem in lack of under age activities to do in the city, and since most of the funding has been cut from the arts and athletics even, not to mention extracurricular clubs. The school lunches are so atrocious, what teenage would be inclined or would want to stay at school during lunch hour?!?  From these activities come teachers, mentors, and volunteers who can influence better life choices in a young person's present and future. 

Would I stop in a park to talk to a group of girls smoking weed? Probably not and only because I know that it would have had zero influence on me as a teenager. And no way would I call the cops - the non-emergency number has had zero success with situations I've called about in the past (like a homeless person experiencing a major mental crisis on the sidewalk... Leave a msg, beep!)

But this conversation does inspire me to call up my neighborhood high school next week and see about volunteering in the theatre or chorus dept. I encourage all of you to think of ways you can get involved in a young person's life as well, or in the very least, support funding for the arts and other after-school activities for middle school and high school students. I personally can attest to a life/path changing conversation I once had at age 16 with an adult whom I believed genuinely cared about my future.

Jena, I like your ideas. I think this is where this conversation has to go.

If you ever see someone on the streets having a mental health emergency again, call the Multnomah County Crisis Line at 503-988-4888. They will get someone out there to help, and the police have to go with them.

Zumpie, alcohol, yes. Cigarettes, no. I am concerned about mind altering drugs, thinks that can distort judgement, not things that make you cough and die young, even though I am against that too, but realize that there are plenty of kids who sit at home and smoke cigs with their parents. I HAVE asked kids smoking cigs to move away from the playground and got an earful of attitude. There are very clear guidelines in Portland about what one can or cannot do in parks, near kids, and I will remind them of it (when safe to do so!).

I wouldn't call the police on kids, or anybody really who isn't harming another person. I can't depend on all the police to be fair and equitable and wouldn't want to start the ball rolling with a kid ending up shot or something.

The rich kids have family rooms and sometimes their own separate entranced mini-apartment to use drugs/drink in. If you're sharing a room with a tattletale baby sister, not-so-much.

By my mid-teens in the prehistoric days, kids in my major metropolitan city were using alcohol, pot, hallucinagens (sp?) Most of us were introduced to pot via a friend's parent's stash as preteens. Think parents with hottubs, a glass of wine and a joint, it seemed to be a rite of passage for divorced parents.

It depends on whether it is a health issue or nuisance issue. Teens aren't stopping use because someone yelled at them. Just like we didn't stop drinking after the cops poured it out, my friends decided I could no longer be lookout since I refused to wear my glasses. My first alcohol was bought by older boys who I thought were being "nice". I ran off when I pieced it together before anything happened. But yes, teenage girls are victimized at house parties, dances, etc due to the availability of drugs and alcohol. Not sure how calling the cops on teens smoking pot midday changes that.

For me the strongest argument against pot is one that has not been mentioned here yet. There are drug wars in the US and in other countries. People are being killed. This includes innocent random victims. Anybody who buys pot (or any illegal drugs for that matter) contributes to this. I don't think that the kids in the park mentioned here care about it, but this is what I would tell my children if I found they were trying pot.

"I wouldn't call the police on kids, or anybody really who isn't harming another person. I can't depend on all the police to be fair and equitable and wouldn't want to start the ball rolling with a kid ending up shot or something."

Protest Mama, so if you saw a drug deal happening in the park, and no one was getting hurt...you would not call the cops? I try to look ahead of the situation and think, could this lead to someone getting hurt? Like a man lurking around a t-ball game when he has no kid on either team. He's not hurting anyone, but you had better believe I am keeping an eye, and I might alert the local cops to keep an eye out. There really are no such things as "victimless crimes."

@ Debby, an actual drug deal, with a hardened dealer versus kids smoking is an entirely different level of criminal act. And in addition to kids who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol at home with their parents, so too are there kids who smoke pot at home with their parents.

@aj there aren't THAT many people typically being killed over bringing pot into the country (more like simply transporting it)--and if anything the dangers prohibition create support legalization.

As for the "if you break one law, you'll start breaking others" that's an awfully flimsy argument.

A. Again, consumption of cigarettes and alcohol (and to varying degrees consensual sex) by minors is illegal, so if you're calling the cops cause they're breaking the law, then you need to call the cops regardless of the substance they're using. Likewise huffing, which uses completely legal ingredients.

B. Really? Break one law and off you go to a life of crime? That's even weaker than the marijuana is a stepping stone (fully scientifically disproven) argument.

You'd be VERY hard pressed to find anyone who hasn't broken some law, somewhere. Jaywalking is illegal, as is driving (with exceptions) faster than 55 MPH. If you board a late bus after the time on your transfer and the driver allows you to ride, that's technically fare evasion. But I'm sure nearly every law abiding person has done those at one time.

MOst companies routinely break laws (particularly tax and labor laws), might even know they're doing it and feel zero issues whatsoever about it.

PPS (the same entity that would have a fair amount of authority over those pot smoking kids) breaks LOTS of laws! Campaign laws, hostile workplace laws, failing to take adequate action against bullying, etc...

Zumpie, you clearly have some sort of ax to grind with law abiding citizens. Please take your radical views to a political site of some sort. We are a parenting site.


And how about that as a hiker... my hubby and I cannot hike March to October in some California wilderness areas because we could be shot or killed on the trail by those who use public lands to grow weed? The pot industry kills. Users support this chain of blood.

Yes, call the cops, because a criminal record is just what every teen needs...

@hiker mom -A) I am parent and these are issues that affect my child and everyone else's. Actually, politics would affect our children as well.

B) I am a completely law abiding citizen. And this isn't political. Though you could add certain forms of civil disobedience to illegal activities that otherwise law abiding people partake in. Again, I don't smoke pot---I just think the "if you break one law you're off on a life of crime" is a very weak strawman.

C) You've truly never broken any law or ordinance? I somehow find that VERY difficult to believe.

D) Didn't realize this is your blog and you get to decide who and what can and can't be posted here.

Oh, also, too also: A)Those pot growers wouldn't shoot at you if it were legal. B)There are plenty of law abiding "survivalist" or libertarian/property rights types in or near the wilderness who'd also shoot at you.

@hiker mum The personal is political.

Wow, and lol.first time here today. Howcome it seems like every time this "zumpie" character gets involved in the conversations it turns ugly?! Secondly, I see most of you had nothing to do today. Why not turn mlk into a service day? And thirdly,regarding the post at hand, being a tattletale mama is definitely a cultural thing to which im generally not a part of. Oh,it has its place in certain life/death situations,but not this topic so much. And I've never smoked pot EVER, so I'm definitely not advocating for it.

@jln - because I have strong opinions and like to argue my points? Otherwise, I do agree with you about being a tattletaling busybody.

I live in NoPo. Well technically NE, but a few blocks from NoPo. This issue has come up at neighborhood meetings. No one wants any drug use in our parks. We want our parks for ourselves .We have enough drug use, drug houses, drug sales, and drug crimes as it is. We choose to live here regardless and there isn't usually a direct effect on our daily lives, but we still don't want it here. People talk to the teens, people call the police who will at least run an extra patrol in the area at least that time. The belief is that every time we call attention to it, it send a message that we don't want it. One adult saying something, one police car going by... is better than just saying 'that's how it is and nothing can be done'. I probably wouldn't call over seeing it one time, but if it was a regular problem in the area, then yes, I think it would help cut down on something larger. Even if all it does is make the teens have to work a bit harder to find a place to do it, at least they are not right out in the open anymore and the park is reclaimed.

why not just march up to them and say "if you don't have enough to share with everyone else, you should not be smoking this here. It's really rude.
oh, p.s. and illegal"

then walk off.

They are teens. It's pot. Most of us went through this phase.

no need to make a big deal out of it.

I'm not very confrontational so I couldn't imagine saying anything to kids smoking pot. I also wouldn't say anything to other inappropriate behavior like spitting on sidewalks or something, no matter how upset I am at it. Inside I'd be thinking I wish they wouldn't do that, but I can't imagine anything I could say that could change their minds. Would anyone expect them to stop and say, hey, lady, you're right! Unlikely.

Being the mother of a teen I think part of doing it in the open is desire to shock people. Getting confrontational just feeds their desire for attention

@ kelly, I highly doubt that smoking pot in the park is a call for attention. Sure,teens want attention and sometimes don't know how to get it in a positive way, but I don't think smoking pot in the park is one of those occasions.

@jln Really? Without question doing something so "rebellious" is totally about attention, wanting to be cool, etc. I vividly remember those days.

@zumpie, well, I remember cutting class to go to the mall or to boys' houses with my girlfriends, and I did NOT want to get caught (attention).I only wwanted to be liked and thought of as cool by my peers. I think I felt like my parents paid TOO much attention,as they were very strict and a bit more overprotective than all my friends' parents.

@jln, that would definitely stem from your parents. I remember just delighting in shocking adults and doing things to make them roll their eyes. Granted, you typically don't want your actual parents to know----just every other adult on the planet!

Like I said, I have a teen. I know a ton of teenaged kids, spend alot of time around the high school and where teens hang. I see their facebooks, their tumblrs and their tweets. There are many places teens can and do go to misbehave in private but those whom choose to do so pubicly do so for a reason. Some are actively seeking confrontation and anyone who is considering schooling them in the presence of their peers should be careful to not end up smacked down figuratively and literally.

"tattletale mama?" Really? Whether or not to say anything to kids in the park is a pretty valid question, but to reduce a desire to keep our kids and communities healthy to the language of a 6 year old just makes me shake my head. Add that to the list of reasons why being a concerned mama can be so challenging sometimes.

It does kind of alarm me, but just a a little bit, and here is why. To some extent, people's behavior can exert a "good" ownership or a "bad" ownership over a public area. That's why some jerks feel that they can say or do anything to someone else on MAX and no one will stop them. Why some people feel they can swear or litter or spit or pee on the street, and no one will say a word. Too much bad behavior and too many bad actors in one area can can make a place feel like it's moving from "good" public ownership, where rules are enforced and people are mostly safe, to "bad" ownership where rules mean nothing and it's easier for people to get hurt. To me, that's the problem. A little bit of discrete pot smoking doesn't rattle me one bit, but a big group that's openly and routinely defying the law starts making a previously safe area seem shady.

Yeah, I guess holding kids accountable makes us "tattletale busybodies." Well, how about just make sure you have your own personal kids smoke their pot in your basement so I don't put them in jail for life by calling the cops to come break up their pot party.

I'm with you Debby!

It's important to have a strong relationship with your kids that includes unconditional acceptance, and open communication. But, there is a fine line between that and being your kids' best friend. You can teach consequences without alienating them, and you can be their friend and support without condoning drugs, alcohol, etc. Ultimately though, we aren't here to be their friends. We are their parents, and our job is to help them to become responsible, productive, honest adults. And that means setting limits, and teaching them how to respect themselves and their communities, which includes respecting authority and abiding by the laws of those communities.

@anotheranon---I agree about parenting one's own children. But these are complete strangers, so they're NOT your responsibility in any way. And yes, I'd say calling the cops on a bunch of kids smoking pot is most assuredly being a tattletaling busybody

I guess we agree to disagree then. It takes a village, it really does. Hopefully my kids and I will have a relationship based on trust and they will feel comfortable being honest about the things they are doing. But if not, I most definitely would want other adults looking out for them, even if it does mean calling the cops on them when they are involved in something dangerous or illegal. And, honestly, I wouldn't care if it was a bunch of teenagers, or an old man smoking pot in the park, I'd still call the non emergency number and request increased patrols around the park. Why? Because I care about my community and want it to feel like a nice, safe place to visit. If caring about my community and watching out for other people in it is being a tattletale, then I'll wear the label with pride.

@anotheranon---again, the dangers of marijuana are somewhat debatable. Would you do the same if teens were smoking (illegal and proven dangerous) or anyone was consuming alcohol publicly (again, illegal for all ages and priven dangerous)?

Same behavior, why different rules?

I'm pretty shocked by the number of people who express the opinion, "All teens do this kind of thing, let it go . . . " Really? Is it true that most teens drink or do drugs, or is that just a societal perception?

Isn't it true that the teen years, developmentally that is, are about establishing identities seperate from parents? That they rebel because they are seeking out where the boundaries of their new identities should be?

It seems to me that if we condone alcohol and drug use (and I mean parents, community members, police, everyone), we are neglecting our responsibilities to help teens understand where they can have a place in the world, safely and successfully.

Drugs and alcohol are not safe for teens. Their bodies and their brains are still developing. The chemicals in alcohol and drugs can harm them in irreparable ways, as can the consequences of being impaired in dating and driving.

I'm equally shocked by the people who say, "I did this as a kid, and I'm okay." You also probably did (as many of us who grew up in the 70s and early 80s) the following: rode in the car with a parent or other adult who was smoking; were driven by a parent who has more than a few drinks at dinner; heard and tolerated oppressive and racist comments made by others around you; were fed all kinds of sugar by your parents. So, sure, you are okay, but do you raise your own kids that way? Based on the general commentary on this site, I would guess the answer is no.

So why is it okay for those kids to be in the park smoking pot?

@anon19---again, if they were smoking cigarettes or drinking would you take as much issue and consider calling the police.

And for thos eof you clutching your pearls and using "but it's illegal" as an argument---here's something else that was illegal in some states just 45 years ago:

http://shine.yahoo.com/love-sex/tender-photos-unearthed-turbulent-time-235100316.html

What sheltered, priviedged lives most of you must lead.

Thank you anon19.

Zumpie, give it up. I think most of us have made it clear that we don't approve of pot smoking in the park in front of our little kids. We will repeat calls to police or we will ask the offenders to move along if we feel safe enough to do so.

My teens don't booze, don't do drugs of any kind... yet they still have great social lives. The "all teens do this" is nonsense.

@philomomma - my tween doesn't do any of those things, either. I'm merely stating (AGAIN) that I wouldn't clutch my pearls and call the cops like you would.

BTW: a) as I mentioned upthread to someone else--didn't realize this was YOUR thread and YOU get to decide who and what is posted here. b) "most of us" I think things were fairly evenly split. With plenty of others agreeing that while they don't want their children doing this, they wouldn't call the cops about it.

Oh---and my entire point is, was and always will be the "but it's illegal" argument is a flimsy one because a) so are cigarettes and alcohol for minors (and public consumption of alcohol for everyone) and b) what's legal and illegal changes over time.

Why is pot so accepted? If you're feeling you want to say something, do it. You don't have to be mean, even if they are, and that IS what the non-emergency # is for. If the police aren't busy w/ an emergency they can come. And yes, call the school. There used to be security guards, but i'm sure there's no budget for that. Why should kids leave for lunch anyway-it just gives them the opportunity to do these things. They are kids--kids--and adults should help them with their choices are bad choice. Be strong and do what your gut told you....if it were my kid I'd hope some mom would help me what my eyes weren't around!

@mom of 2--I don't know that pot IS so accepted, but if it is---it's probably because it's already been proven to actually be LESS dangerous than cigarettes and alcohol and will ultimately be legalized (particularly in states like WA, OR and CA, which already have progressive laws about it).

That said AGAIN: a) would you also call the police if the same teens were smoking cigarettes (far more deadly in actuality) or drinking? Both of those are also illegal for minors to posses.

As for the "kids" being allowed out during lunch--my daughter's middle school permits that. Perhaps the idea is so that they'll get fresh air.

High schoolers ARE permitted more freedom, because they're older and thus given more choices in life. They might well make the wrong ones, but that's a free society. Your argument implies they should be kept in a bubble until their graduation.

Along those lines, many of those same "kids" can drive, vote, own a gun, enter into legal contracts, enlist, etc.

As a mom, I (again) do not want my daughter experimenting with any of this. But I also wouldn't want to see her expelled, placed in rehab or have a record because she made a stupid mistake, ONCE and a busybody decided to call the police on her.

As an involved parent, I'M the adult to guide her in making good choices.

Everybody believes that "other people's kids" are the ones that engage in these behaviours. It's is a dangerous state of denial and that delusion seems to add to the callous reaction that some have towards "those kids".

I agree with everything zumpie has said and I'm not sure why so many other posters seem to be singling out her posts. Plenty of folks on this board have expressed a similar stance. I also second what Kelly said; what if it's your kid in the park. Maybe they're not even smoking, but they're standing with a group of friends that are. Would you want your entire life defined by the choices you made when you were 16? Maybe you experimented with pot, alcohol, cigarettes, etc, or maybe you were just a dumb teenager on account of any number of other hormone-driven, not well thought out decisions. Seriously, raise your hand if you never ever did anything stupid and short-sighted as a teenager. Now if there were a group of teens fighting or otherwise being violent or dangerous, I would certainly call the cops, but if my kid and I walked by a group of kids smoking and she asked "What's that funny smell?" (a question I asked my mother walking home one day when I was about the same age as my eight year old), I would take the opportunity to explain to her what it was, just as we've explained cigarettes and alcohol to her, when she's had questions.

"who doesn't hang out with a gaggle of friends and smoke at that age?"

I never did, never touched a cigarette or marijuana in my life. And don't plan to.

I am 18 and I always love to smoke some weed in the park with a few friends. To all the parents who recommend to call the cops are ridiculous, Your just going to get the smokers into some deep trouble(depending on the state) for smoking a harmless plant.

Oh Chase. Where to even begin. Are you the first 18 year old to smoke pot? I don't think so, it's been going on for generations. Our generation might have just been a little bit more discrete about it and smoked in basements and frat houses. And give yourself a few years until your frontal lobe finishes developing (around age 27) before you decide that marijuana is a harmless plant. Or try an experiment. Try planting pot in it's natural form in your backyard. The best high you will get is from all of the rope you are able to make from your hemp plant. If you want to smoke something natural, go with cloves.

@Wilson Mom and others:

Hey guess what????? It's now legal (for adults, just like smoking, drinking and having sex) in Washington and Colorado! Oregon's measure failed, but not horribly and was too broad, which is why it failed. I believe one other, east coast state legalized it, as well

It really IS time to accept that it's only a matter of time before it IS legal.

Since we live in Oregon where it is still illegal it is irresponsible to condone or to turn a blind eye on teens smoking pot. I don't think reporting a CRIME is being a tattletale or busybody. I do think trivializing crime, no matter what the perceived seriousness, sets a poor example for children that need to learn to accept the rules of society and how challenge rules they don't agree with through appropriate channels.

anon, it's not a crime here and hasn't been one for over thirty years. It was decriminalized in the 70's. It's misdemeanor that comes with a ticket, much like drinking in public. Not to say that we should all encourage our kids to light up, but legalized for commercial sale or not, it would still be illegal for minor consumption, so what's the difference? By the way, a ballot measure is the definition of "appropriate channels".

@anontoo, great response! :-) I'd even say it's more analogous to a traffic violation (except your insurance rates don't go up).

@anon - again, would you call the police on teens drinking or smoking tobacco cigarettes? Because those are illegal if you're under 21 or 18 respectively.

A misdemeanor is a crime. I agree that if one does not agree with the regulations that proposing a ballot measure is the appropriate action, however if that fails then it is still a crime and in my mind not something to turn a blind eye to. It is important to me that my children understand that part of living in a civilized society is following the rules and refusing to do so can result in punishment.
Zumpie, I would also report underage drinking or tobacco smoking. If teens are bold enough to break the law, then they should face the consequences. I don't equate smoking pot with a traffic violation, however following your analogy even traffic violations are punishable with citations and potentially points on your record and (unless the law changes) smoking pot should be too. If you don't agree, continue to fight to change the law and don't smoke pot unless it's changed-simple!

Actually, pot smoking carries the exact same penalty in this state as a traffic violation--and has since I moved here, 15 years ago. As an Oregonian, I'd think you'd know that.

I actually believe in modelling challenging authority to my child, because accepting the status quo would mean nothing would ever change.

Suffragettes broke the law so we could vote, the Occupy Movement broke the law (and I supported their efforts), Civl Disobendience (as practiced in the Civil Rights movement) was illegal (and some of it would technically still be illegal). It was illegal in certain parts of country until almost 1970 for an African American to marry a caucasian.

I (again) don;t smoke pot, but it really isn't for you to tell me or anyone else how YOU feel they should obey a rather archaic law. Even stepping past this, medical marijuana IS legal and is now prescribed for a rather broad spectrum of "ailments".

That said, I do you credit you for not being hypocritical about this. Though in the case of smoking cigarettes, the teens might actually be 18!

You aren't taking the time to understand what I am saying.... My point, smoking pot is currently against the law-so I wouldn't turn a blind eye. Frankly, I have no problem with people attempting to fight for legalization and teaching children about the PROPER methods to fight for whatever they want. What I am saying is I do not feel it is appropriate to teach children to ignore someone breaking the law (in my mind this is like silently encouraging it).

On quick glance it appears there are very different punishments based on how much pot someone is carrying and where there are located at the time of apprehension as there are different punishments for different traffic violations It seems as though you want to be snide and pick apart small details instead of having a meaningful discussion about whether or not we should turn a blind eye or report illegal activity (which seems to be a theme with your comments across the board) so I will spend my time more productively elsewhere.

I think I made it very clear all along that kids will be kids, there are varying degrees of illegal behavior and that I wouldn't feel compelled to play Mrs. Kravitz and tattle on them.

That said, I do discuss such behavior with my daughter and she has sense enough not to do such things. I think it's better to focus less on "but it's illegal" and more on "it's stupid, you're too young, etc". Instead of mere authority worship, my daughter is able to construct her own values and sense of right and wrong.

Oh, something else that used to be illegal? Homosexuality!

Keep going, its none of your business whether or not they are doing what they are doing. Pot is less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes. I agree it shouldn't be smoked in a park with children around but when I was younger I did to smoked a bowl in the park with my friends. Its not the end of the world and remember they arent your kids. If my kid was smoking and someone I dont know yelled at them Id get upset. Let the parents discipline their children. Believe me they will get caught eventually and if they dont they arent going to do it forever. Sooner or later they will realize if they want a good job they will have pass a drug test and quit. Just ignore it. Its not hurting you or anyone else.

I'd confront them or call the non-emergency police number. I'm a teenager myself in a fairly wealthy suburban area. I was at a local park today with my friend and there was a group of kids of all ages from a nearby school there. We started hanging out with them and were impressed at how fifth graders, middle school kids, and high school kids were all hanging out together, skateboarding and having a good time. I did notice however that one of the older boys was smoking cigarettes. I was okay with it because he was eighteen so it's legal although I was annoyed that younger kids were being exposed to it. About thirty minutes later I noticed some of the younger kids had joined in and were chatting about how they were going to get a "bottle" I'm assuming beer. I debated with my friend on what to do about it. Coming from a strict Catholic school I of course turned into a little sixteen year old preacher girl telling them stories I'd heard about friends lives becoming ruined by drugs and alcohol and how it all started with just a few cigarettes and some beer. They all laughed and brushed it off but I'm hoping some of it sank in to at least a few. We didn't call any authorities but I wish we had. You're not going to ruin someone's life by calling the cops. Most likely the illegal substance will be taken away and parents will be called for first time offenders. If it turns out it's not their first time, well then that's their own fault for not learning from their mistakes. Anyway, I wasn't upset that older kids were smoking, it's that they blatantly did it in front of fourth and fifth graders. It's only a matter of time before they go down the same path. Sorry for the really long story.

I'm in the circle too. Just keep walking... hav a nice day.

Wow Mia, nice (fully and completely disproven) gateway argument there. Are you perhaps also an avid "Secret Life of the American Teen" viewer? Because you sound an awful lot like Brenda Hampton

zumpie, you are mean.

what the hell is with you people? You'd call the police and ruin childrens lives that quickly? SMOKING MARIJUANA IS NOT HARMFUL SO STOP ACTING LIKE YOU WILL DIE FROM IT.

So you potentially give them a criminal record and bring attention to it in front of your kids. Mom of the year. I get the feeling someone is going to be dealing with some real rebels in a few years ;) If it's not in your face (literally) then just leave them alone for christ sakes. Your kids won't know what they are doing until a friend at school tells them about it anyway. Which is, inevitable.

And for the record, Zumbie made excellent thought-out points. All I see from the other side is a bunch of neurotic self-centered opinions and crazy examples like wild pot farmers shooting you and such hahaha All the more reason to legalize, right?

Debbie is obviously either a troll or has her head so far up you know where that she's hearing echoes. Did i really just read that stupidity about growing your own pot? Hey debbie, It works. And it's a lot better than smoking rope hahaha There wasn't 'bud' back then, just leaves? That's not how pot works...you can't have leaves without the bud part. Then you tell people to smoke cloves!?? HALF THE GIRL SMOKERS I KNOW STARTED FROM CLOVES! And some guys too. THATS TOBACCO, genius. How dare you tell anyone to inhale that crap! I'm sorry but i'm just disgusted with the ignorance of this woman. Try browsing around the internet next time before you open your mouth with 'facts'.

To be clear, the leaves do come first. So you could have leaves without bud but no one has ever done that unless they had no clue what they were doing. In the 60's and 70's.. there was bud and leaves. Ask any old head that was into it. It's always been the same.

Let them smoke they're kids weed is good and maybe u need some of that green crack

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