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Dear Abby 2/15
Marijuana has complex effect on teens' developing brains
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    DEAR ABBY: You were right to tell "Just Saying No" (Jan. 16) that his pot-smoking classmates could be headed for addiction or other problems. I worry that marijuana poses more risks to teens than they — or their parents — recognize. More kids need professional help kicking marijuana than for all other drugs combined. It is not a "harmless" drug.
    School failure, which you mentioned, could be only the first of many problems daily pot smokers may experience. Researchers have a long way to go in understanding the complexity of brain function, but we know that illicit drug use changes the developing brain. Many young people smoke pot before their brain development is settled, and their chronic use of the drug can affect certain centers in the brain that control emotion and reason.
    Research shows that regular use of marijuana may also lead to mental health problems. Youth who use marijuana weekly have double the risk of depression later in life, and are three times more likely than non-users to have suicidal thoughts. -- MARC GALANTER, M.D., DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF ALCOHOLISM AND DRUG ABUSE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER
    DEAR DR. GALANTER: Thank you for lending your expertise on this subject. I am sure many teens and their parents will find your letter enlightening.
    If they wish, younger readers can read and consider the latest scientific facts about marijuana and other drugs by logging onto Parents can visit for tips on talking to their adolescents and teens about drugs and how to get them help if that conversation begins "too late."

    DEAR ABBY: Every time my husband and I attend a viewing, no matter who the deceased person is, my husband insists that I get in line in front of him. This means I'm the one who must approach the grieving family.
    Some of the funerals we have been to are for people my husband knew well, but I knew only casually. It makes me uncomfortable to be the first to approach the family. He insists that it's "proper etiquette" to have me in front of him. I would have no problem being first if it was for someone I was close to. I feel he should do the same. Is there a right way or a wrong way to line up? -- ROCKY RIVER, OHIO, MOURNER
    DEAR R.R.O.M.: There is no right or wrong way for mourners to line up for a viewing. Your husband may feel uncomfortable addressing the grieving family because he doesn't know what to say, and that's why he's defaulting to the old "ladies first" practice. (Please inform him that it should be ladies first only if the lady would LIKE to go first, not if she objects!)
    However, because you appear to be stuck in the role of "point person" for your family, simply tell the family members you are "sorry for their loss." This applies whether you know them well or not, and it's all they really need to hear.

    DEAR ABBY: I am a senior in high school and in a long-distance relationship with a magician's apprentice who is a year younger than me. What should I expect from this relationship? -- LINDSAY IN SAN JOSE, CALIF.
    DEAR LINDSAY: Because, as part of their business, magicians often spend a lot of time on the road, expect a vanishing act. (Now you see him — now you don't.)
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