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Buds in Your Blue Moon - and Other Joint Ventures

With the legalization of the sale and possession of recreational marijuana in several states has come a flood of clever inventions and marketing campaigns, causing many of us, especially educators of youth, to adopt a fully openmouthed posture. "How'd they even think of that?"  "I wouldn't have come up with marijuana-infused mac n' cheese in a million years."  Soon, the label on beer could be worthy of a second look.  If it's noticeably "greener" than other labels, or has more kid-friendly colors and motif, or if it's donning a giant pot leaf, it could be suspect.  Pot has been infusing beer in Europe for many years; and in the last couple of years, US bottlers have jumped on the beerwagon, adding non-psychoactive strains of cannabis to their product.  But recently, the U.S.-based Blue Moon Brewing Company decided to brew their barley and hops with actual THC.  A flood of copycats, and advertising campaigns to grace your city's billboards, will follow. Related ads are already jolting us out of our driver's seats as we drive down Ventura Boulevard.  Have you yet heard of the frightening 1,000-mg-of-THC Blackout Brownie, equivalent to about 100 joints?  California is barely a year-and-a-half into the passing of legal recreational marijuana, and the marketers are already shouting at kids about how fun it is to pass out from using it. One of our Project ALERT advisory board members at RAND, Dr. Elizabeth J. D’Amico, recently wrote an op-ed for USA Today describing the impact that these marijuana ads can have on youth.

 

Teens have also been feeling the highs and lows of alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) for the last few years, adding products like Monster, 5-hour Energy, and Four Loko to vodka and beer to feel what's been called the "wide awake drunk" effect.  It's a practice endorsed by high school students more than middle school students, and by the college crowd more than high schoolers.  The effects?  One recent study by our colleagues at RAND determined that "… AmED users drank more often, more heavily, and reported more negative consequences in high school. AmED users were also more likely to report poor grades, delinquent behavior, substance use-related unsafe driving, public intoxication, and drug use than AwoED (alcohol without energy drinks) users in high school." As with the use of other substances, many teens aren't aware that changes can take place in the brain when it's flooded with combinations of mind-altering chemicals, and what decisions and consequences could result.

 

And then comes the question… what's that distinctive, skunky aroma coming from the coffee pot?  Turns out that it's a blend of fine Columbian coffee and fine Columbian (pot). This one really surprised us (but why??). If your teenager takes a sudden interest in your Keurig machine, take a glance at the coffee pod label and make sure it doesn't bear the name Brewbudz. At $7 a pop, it's unlikely that the practice will be habit-forming for most teens, deterred by the high price tag for the 10-50mg of THC in their travel mug. Nevertheless, café de chronic has arrived and is looking to hook new recruits.

 

The idea of teens combining substances to test what effects will be produced isn't novel - it's just one more thing to monitor.

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