Couple gets backlash for smoking pot on TV

Couple gets backlash for smoking pot on TV

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by Pat Dooris, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 6:26 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 10 at 8:49 PM

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver couple Siobhan Gill and Ben Sturgis faced criticism on social media today after appearing on TV last night, smoking their first bowl of legal marijuana.

Gill couldn’t believe some of the comments.

“People who know me and didn’t know I smoked have started judging me,” she said. “A lot of backlash has come over social media. My friends are sharing stories and got a lot of comments.” 

Gill is angry over the way some critics rushed to judge her and Sturgis.

“I'm not lazy, I'm not on welfare, I don’t do it in front of my child. This is my fiancée. I go to school, he works full time. We're not what these people are trying to make us look like,” she said.

The verbal attacks did not surprise sociologist Randy Blazack.

“Its going to take awhile. People don’t like change. People are generally resistant to change. People are anxious about things they haven’t experienced yet so of course people have concerns,” he said.

Blazack teaches about cultural change at Portland State University. The criticism of Gill and her fiancee show that, although a majority of voters agreed pot should be legal in Washington State, the culture still has a ways to go before accepting the change.

“It’s the greatest cliché I guess in the world, that the only thing that's constant is change. And sometimes it happens rapidly, sometimes it happens slowly. It seems like this is rapid but this has been in the works now for 20 years,” he said.

Clearly, not everyone is a fan of marijuana. Dr. Andy Mendenhall says the plant is especially dangerous for teens.

“Many times they'll experiment with marijuana thinking it might be safer. Couldn’t be further from the truth. We know the younger that they start, the more likely they will become addicted,” he said.

Mendenhall is an MD and the outpatient director at the Hazelden Clinic in Beaverton. He said 60 percent of teens he sees are trying to kick an addiction to pot.

The danger, he said, is that their developing brains will like the feeling that smoking pot gives them. And then it will want more.

Mendenhall said parents should talk with their teens about avoiding the drug.

“Let's respect the intelligence of young adults and say, 'I’m concerned that you might choose to do this. The reason I’d like you to choose not to is because I’m afraid that if you have a good experience, your brain’s going to become attached to that,'” said Mendenhall.

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