With the new year firmly in place, it's time to start taking a stand on a few issues. Not to worry, it will be completely painless. Let's talk about legal marijuana, with Colorado and Washington State legalizing personal use in the latter part of 2012. In addition, states from Maine to California have approved varying degrees of medical marijuana. While I do believe people with chronic pain and neurological disorders can successfully achieve a degree of relief from cannabis, I am concerned about young people starting a chronic smoking habit in their formative years. That said, I do believe pot is likely less harmful than excessive alcohol, which can waste the body and promote belligerent behavior, including out and out abuse. Alcohol is also a dis - coordinative inebriant, as evidenced by the all too often tragedy witnessed with drunk drivers on the road. The problem I see with marijuana is bound up in the fact in that it is what is called an "amotivational" drug. "Amotivational" is a 3 dollar word which means lack of motivation, promoting apathy, promoting couch potato behavior… take your pick. If you're a big pot advocate you may perhaps get your back up about defending your favorite green leaf, and claim that you hold a job, raise a family, and otherwise contribute on a daily basis to a healthy and normal, fully engaged existence. Good for you. Still, it can't be denied, there is a "stoner" stereotype, and it didn't come out of the blue. It didn't come from the government either, like the once upon a time "reefer madness" campaign where we were led to believe one puff and you lose your marbles for life. Apathy and lack of motivation is a real concern, especially for young people. It takes a lot to survive in this world in this day and age, and I believe young people need every advantage moving forward. If you're continually stoned, your head is in the clouds half the time. As far as pot being a gateway drug and whether it leads to abuse of stronger drugs, I believe it does. This has been a point of great debate for years. Many people who smoke pot will point to their own life and say, "It hasn’t with me" and perhaps, luckily, they are right. It just seems that the business of having a habit… any habit…. puts you in the business of forming other habits. I applaud the man or woman who can do this with self control, legally of course. It is however a slippery slope. If you want to insist there isnt ice on that slope, be my guest, and best of luck. I can tell you that I have lost 5 good friends and a brother to drugs and alcohol. Lost as in dead. I worked in New York City for 10 years, and witnessed first hand what a heroin habit can do to your life. Maybe kids should see a bit of the gritty underside of life. I don’t mean on tv or youtube. Maybe schools should re introduce the old "Scared Straight" program which ran in the 70's and 80's. Ex- cons telling their tales of woe and regret. As Yoda said in Star Wars , "Once the dark path you go down, forever it controls your destiny"… or something like that. Some people beat it, but most don't. So you've got to ask yourself, "Do I feel lucky ?" "Well, Do Ya Punk ?"