A 14-year-old boy in Oregon, Eddie Herzig, is taking a stand. He’s tired of this crap and he’s not going to take it anymore. So Eddie has started an online petition in an effort to get a menace removed from his neighborhood, the menace…of marijuana billboards.
“Advertising for cannabis products is present throughout our community and children are seeing it,” the petition states. “Cigarettes have been legal for much longer and have strict laws regarding their advertising. Similar laws should be enacted to regulate the advertising of cannabis products.”
It’s clear that Eddie – or the adult who wrote the petition for him – did some research. The petition references a 1942 Supreme Court Ruling and an incorrect 2014 study. It’s a shame that Eddie, or his ghostwriter, didn’t do much research on the substance they are trying to ban the billboard advertising of: cannabis.
For starters, marijuana is much safer than tobacco, so comparing the two is an amateurish attempt to somehow link the known dangers of cigarettes with marijuana in people’s minds. But since Eddie is only 14, he probably didn’t realize that.
Moreover, the 2014 study that is cited in the petition states, “[Cannabis] use is increasing among adolescents and young adults (Henry et al., 2003), partially due to society’s changing beliefs about cannabis use and its legal status.” But cannabis use is not on the rise among adolescents and young adults.
“With frequent advertising, kids think it is okay to use cannabis,” says the petition. “THIS MUST STOP. Cannabis products should have their advertising controlled in the same manner as cigarettes.”
Using this logic, we see that frequent alcohol advertising leads kids to think drinking alcohol is ok. So many of them run out to their local liquor or grocery store to pick up a 12-pack of…oh, wait. No matter how many beer ads a kid sees, they are not old enough to buy alcohol. Such is the case with legal marijuana.
But even the assumption that seeing advertising would make a kid want to do something leads to a question: where are the parents and other authority figures in all of this? There are many things that kids see adults do every day that they themselves cannot do; things like drinking a beer or driving a car. It’s up to adults to explain to children why they have to wait to do these things.
“We were walking past billboards and posters and all that type of thing, and she [Eddie’s little sister] was wondering, ‘What is this?'” Eddie said. “I realized that when she is 6 and 7, she doesn’t really need to be exposed to the type of stuff that’s out there… on these major roadways that kids can see.”
So instead of doing some research and actually answering his sister’s questions, or better yet, alerting their parents that his sister had questions, Eddie figured that getting the billboards banned will end the questions and the subject will never come up again and it’s better for his sister to remain in the dark about cannabis instead of explaining that adults do some things that kids can’t do.
That’s exactly the type of strategy you would expect a 14-year-old to come up with, that’s why they don’t vote, drink, go to war, drive, consent to a contract, etc. They shouldn’t be raising kids either, and they certainly shouldn’t be driving government policy.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s commendable for a 14-year-old to want to get involved with something. I was the same way at that age, and most kids aren’t. But it’s been 23 years since I was 14 and just those years of perspective alone show me how much I was wrong about then. In fact, 14-year-old me thought smoking marijuana killed your brain cells and gave you lung cancer. So I can see how Eddie came to be so ill-informed.
Then again, when I was 14 the Internet and smartphones and tablets didn’t exist, so maybe I had a better excuse for being so wrong about cannabis.