A public policy that regulates and controls marijuana will likely make it easier, not harder, for parents and educators to rationally and persuasively discuss this subject with young people ("Teens want real talk about pot," May 12).

After all, many parents who may have experimented with cannabis during their youth — or who continue to indulge occasionally — will no longer feel the social and legal pressures to lie to their children about their own behavior.

Rather, just as many parents presently speak to their children openly about their use of alcohol — instructing them that booze may be appropriate for adults in moderation but that it remains inappropriate for young people — legalization will unburden parents so that they can talk objectively and rationally to their kids about marijuana.

Just as parents today appropriately differentiate between alcohol use and alcohol abuse, and strive to provide young people with the skills to similarly discern between these behaviors, parents and educators in an environment of cannabis regulation will be able to take a similar stance when it comes to talking to their teens about pot.

Today adolescents' consumption of alcohol and tobacco — two legal intoxicants that pose far greater harms than marijuana — is at an all-time low. These outcomes were not accomplished by instituting criminal prohibition, but rather by legalization, regulation and public education.

Criminalizing marijuana is a disproportionate response to what, at worst, is a health issue, not a criminal justice issue.

Paul Armentano, Washington, D.C.

The writer is deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

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