I am. And my kids don't even really listen to his music. But I'm pissed off for the kids that do. And their parents.
One of the headlines on MSNBC today announced that, in an interview with Playboy Magazine, the boy band wonder turned actor admitted he regularly smokes marijuana and justified it by saying, "...it gets me to stop thinking....Sometimes I have a brain that needs to be turned off. Some people are just better high." Huh. You know, there are other ways to accomplish the same thing. More challenging ways, I admit, but other ways. Fully legal, free ways to clear your mind. Like physical exercise. Yoga. Meditation.
Just last week I saw a special on television produced by our local NBC affiliate that featured a panel of pediatric specialists fielding questions from parents of teenagers. Not surprisingly, one of the topics that came up was drug use. The doctors unanimously agreed that marijuana is known as a "gateway" drug - one that has seemingly few negative consequences and is cheap enough that most kids feel okay trying it. The 'gateway' connotation comes from the known fact that many of these kids are emboldened by their experimentation with pot and begin using other, more dangerous drugs as a result. For a number of reasons, pot seems fairly innocuous to many teens. It comes from a naturally occurring substance versus being manufactured in a lab, it is relatively inexpensive and easy to acquire, and doesn't require needles or fancy equipment to get high. Even kids who don't want to smoke it can simply ingest it in baked goods and get high.
Unfortunately, these physicians also universally agreed that marijuana has been shown to affect the brains of teenagers by impairing their brain development. "Studies of normal brain development reveal critical areas of the brain that develop during late adolescence, and our study shows that heavy cannabis use is associated with damage in those brain regions," says one brain researcher whose findings were published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. Some of the functions that could potentially be damaged by marijuana use? Memory. Attention. Decision-making. Language. Executive functions. (You can find the report on this study here). These are fairly important, no?
So I'm pissed off. At someone who, while getting publicity for himself, would say something so irresponsible. Something that could prove so harmful to so many of his fans. I don't care if he smokes pot. I don't care if he shoots up. I don't care if he engages in any other kind of illegal activities so long as they only cause harm to himself. But I do resent him justifying his immature behavior with such a lame excuse when it could provide just the justification a teenager needs to either begin or continue using drugs, "to clear my mind." Do what you want in your own time, JT, but don't pretend that your desire to get high stems from some Zen-like need for clarity. And don't give my kid an excuse to follow in your footsteps.