Thursday, February 22, 2018
Politics

A member of the 'dumbest generation' reflects on marijuana use

A few years ago, there was a lot of talk that devices such as smartphones were creating a group of young people who were not so smart. In fact, somebody even wrote a book about this supposed trend called The Dumbest Generation.

I say "supposed" because in a 2008 column in the Washington Post author Neil Howe decisively took down this premise — body slammed it, really — with, for starters, the results of college entrance exams from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Not only were the average scores of folks born between 1958 and 1964 lower than at any time before or since, so were the number of students taking the test. In other words, only the elite students of this generation — my generation — took the test, and they still put up sorry scores.

Graduation rates entered a similar trough as this age group passed through — or didn't — high school and college. So did subsequent recruitment into professions such as law and medicine.

"Compared with every other birth cohort," Howe wrote, "they have performed the worst on standardized exams, acquired the fewest educational degrees and been the least attracted to professional careers. In a word, they're the dumbest."

He gives lots of potential causes, including the high divorce rate and the do-your-own-thing ethos then common among parents and teachers.

I'm sure these were factors, but so was, I'm convinced, the one arena in which my age group achieved historically high marks — marijuana use.

In 1978, nearly 40 percent of high school seniors had used marijuana in the previous month, according to the annual Monitoring the Future survey performed by the University of Michigan.

This figure dropped to well below 20 percent in the early 1990s and has climbed slowly since, along with the public acceptance of marijuana use.

Which is why the time is right to bring up Howe's column. As you probably know, there's a drive to legalize medical marijuana, financed by a rich lawyer who seems to have picked an excellent vehicle for further self-promotion, which I'm sure is his goal.

According to a recent poll partly financed by this paper, more than two-thirds of voters in the Tampa Bay area would vote for this measure.

And, yes, marijuana is less dangerous than drugs that already are legal for medical and even recreational use.

But it's still dangerous, and a lot more powerful than it used to be. And the general result of legalizing it for medical use in other states has been to make it more widely available to people who don't really need it and more socially acceptable.

And I'm not sure we need that, based on what I remember of the previous era when it was widely available and socially acceptable.

I remember bongs around the campfire as a Boy Scout, and kids passing joints on the way to class in college. I remember skipping a lot of classes so I could huddle around the stereo and a bag of weed. It didn't seem like a big deal when so many of my friends — just about all of them — were doing the same.

But it was. I wasted a lot of educational opportunities, a lot of my parents' money. And as I moved into the harder stuff — because marijuana is a gateway, I don't care what any study shows — I probably wasted some brain cells, too.

So, really, isn't one very dumb generation enough?

Comments
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. That’s because a ban deals only with fut...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

TAMPA — One highlight of a congressional delegation’s visit to Cuba this week was an impromptu meeting with President Raul Castro.But not for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.The Tampa Democrat joined five other Democrats on the trip, in part to investigate th...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on ‘chain migration’

Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on ‘chain migration’

The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple...
Published: 02/21/18
Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

We’ll take "surprising side gigs" for $1,000! "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek will moderate a debate among Republican hopefuls vying for the Pennsylvania gubernatorial nomination.The longtime game show star will be questioning candidates at an Oct. 1 for...
Published: 02/21/18
Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

SPRING HILL — A Hernando County woman new to the political arena has filed as the fifth Democrat to run against longtime Florida lawmaker U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster for his spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.Dana Cottrell, 49, has lived in Sprin...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/21/18
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition canceled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under former P...
Published: 02/20/18
Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election charged an attorney Tuesday with lying to federal investigators about his interactions with a former Trump campaign official. A charging document filed in federa...
Published: 02/20/18
Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina man with a felony conviction for indecent liberties with a child was one-half of the poster couple for a new "Trump Dating" website.News outlets reported Monday that visitors to the dating site geared toward suppor...
Published: 02/20/18
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Published: 02/19/18
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Published: 02/19/18