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    Casual use of marijuana affects brain development

    Date: 05.29.14 | by Judge Tom.

    A new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience in April, 2014 reports that young adults (ages 18 to 25) who used marijuana just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in certain parts of the brain.

    The study analyzed twenty marijuana users and twenty control subjects. The results indicated that one region of the brain responsible for motivation was affected by regular use of marijuana leading to what’s called “amotivation” – a psychological condition that causes people to become less oriented towards their goals and purposes in life.


    Photo by Miss Libertine (Flickr)

    Research was lead by Psychiatry Professor Hans C. Breiter of Northwestern University School of Medicine in Michigan. He commented that the users showed “abnormalities in their working memory, which is fundamental to everything you do. When you make judgments or decisions, plan things – anything you do involves working memory.”

    As you go through life and strive to reach your goals, your habits obviously have an effect on your success. Think about what you put into your body and the long-term toll it could have. After all, it’s your life and the choices you make belong to you.


    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • ScaredTeenMom
      Fri, 19 Sep 2014 at 09:22

      Hello Judge Tom,

      I’ve written to you before. I am 17 with a young son (18 months old). I live at home with my parents, my sister and in my Senior Year in HS. You may recall from my earlier emails, the father and his family wanted nothing to do with my son until just recently. They first came to court stating that and the judge wouldn’t stand for it. She made the GALs investigate and interview my son’s father away from his parents. They came back to court a month later and his attorney/GAL filed a motion for visitation, but because they originally abandoned my son and some issues with their family, the baby’s dad received supervised visits once a week for 1 1/2 hours at a location of the court. That went on for about 2 months and the visits went well because he was provided a mentor that taught him how to change a diaper and interact with our son. I also asked for a drug evaluation during that time because I know my ex-boyfriend smokes pot (he posts about it publicly) and volunteered myself for the same evaluation (I don’t do drugs or drink). I passed the test and of course he did not pass the evaluation. During the last court hearing the GAL (my son’s), knowing there is a substance abuse issue with the father moved the visits to my baby’s fathers home. He only sees him every other Sunday from 12-5 and it appears his mother is taking care of him because she leaves a note in the diaper bag as to what he ate, etc. I was surprised the judge agreed to that because of the drug issues, known drinking of minors in the family’s home with his parents knowledge (publicly posting pictures of minors doing shots in their kitchen) and that he has not been involved in his life. The GAL also made the visits during my son’s nap time. He usually sleeps from 12 to 3. He is not sleeping for the baby’s dad and family so he comes home either really tired or overly hyper. My Mom asked if we could consider a visit from 7:00 AM to 11:00 or 3 to 8 and he said, “No,–you all can just adjust his nap schedule because the father wants to watch football with him.” This is his schedule at daycare too, so we really can’t change that. The baby’s GAL mentioned the next time in court we will talk about “overnight” visits. I think he is being totally irresponsible in looking out for my son’s best interest and I am very scared something bad is going to happen to my son. My son’s GAL only ordered the drug testing when I pressured my GAL to ask for that in court and then knowing that the baby’s father is only 16 and is allowed to drink at home by his parents, he wrote in the order, that he just can’t drink or use illegal substances within 24 hours before seeing our son. Thank God the judge removed that and said he better not be using any illegal substances period and she wrote that in the order. He is also now going through a court ordered drug treatment program. Even with all of this I don’t have an issue getting along with my baby’s father (we dated for 2 years) and the only issues I have is 1) he abandoned his son 2) he is using illegal substances and because of that socializing with people not safe to have around our son 3) he is not communicating with me regarding our son 4) I fear for my baby’s safety. For example I sent him a text when the baby had a very bad cold and let him know that I gave him some medicine before dropping him off and told him I hope you enjoy your visit with him and he is ok for you today, but he may be a little tired. He didn’t even acknowledge the text but I could see he opened it. His mother writes the notes when we pick him up and puts them in the diaper bag and now I am suppose to agree in court to overnight visits, knowing he wont even communicate with me if something happens with our son? Unfortunately my GAL is not very good. She is new in her role and the judge seems to just eat her alive and the baby’s father’s GAL objects to every piece of evidence she presents (such as pictures of the father drinking, smoking pot) etc, and the judge sustains it all. No evidence that shows the risk of being with his father outside of a supervised visit situation is allowed in. My parents can’t afford to hire an attorney because they are paying for everything in our family and for my son’s daycare, food & clothes, my education and my sisters. The father only pays $65 a month child support and his family pays for nothing else. So my question is this, can I write a letter to the Judge and express my concerns for my baby’s safety during an overnight visit and express that I don’t feel it is in his best interest. Can I communicate to her asking consideration for the visitation to be scheduled around my son’s nap schedule and ask for no overnight visits at this time, especially since they’ve expressed they cannot get him to sleep in their home. If he wont nap for them, why would he sleep overnight for them? Also, early on we had to go through multiple home visits, pictures of the inside of our house and all of that from the baby’s GAL and there has been no proof on their end that his house has even been babyproofed, a home visit since the baby started going there, etc. I’m in a bad position because my GAL is not very good and my son’s GAL is definitely not looking out for his best interest. He even made a comment in court to the judge that their family takes in strangers that have been kicked out of their homes all of the time and what a “Christian thing” that is to do. It was almost like he was representing my baby’s father instead of him. So they abandoned their own Grandson for almost 2 years and now they have strangers living in their house that my son will also be exposed to. That sounds safe! I am just so frustrated because I want the baby’s father in his life, he needs a father, but I want to keep him safe too. I think it is going to be a long time before he grows up and realizes how important it is and what a big responsibility it is to keep a young child safe even for 24 hours. What can I do knowing my GAL is not very good, the baby’s GAL is acting more in a perfunctory manner and not really protecting our son. I’ve gone to my GAL and she is afraid to rock the boat (her exact words with the baby’s GAL) because she said as soon as she mentions any sort of limitations, he leans toward giving the father more access and unsupervised access and the judge just does what he wants. The judge and this GAL have a long term relationship. She told us she just lost a case where a known drug dealer with a record, just got 50% custody of his kids and said that in Virginia, this is just how it works! I also asked for co-parenting counseling for the baby’s father and me and the GALs wouldn’t agree to that either. I also suggested that the father come to our son’s 18 month check up to sort of kick off the co-parenting process, meet his doctor and all and the GALs couldn’t agree to that either. They said they don’t want to control how he lives his life, but I am suppose to now hand my son over to him for overnight visits? Any help you can provide on whether I should or shouldn’t write a letter to the Judge or if you can recommend anything else, would be greatly appreciated! I just can’t believe any judicial system would think it is safe and looking out for my son’s best interest to add overnights. Thank you Judge Tom! My court date is in early Nov, so I appreciate a response soon.
      Dear ScaredTeenMom: Although you, the baby and baby’s father have GALs (guardian ad litem), the function of a GAL differs from a lawyer representing each of you. From your description of the events in your baby’s life and your concerns regarding the father and his family, it may be helpful if you had your own attorney to represent your interests as the mother. The judge on the case would certainly benefit from having full knowledge of your concerns.
      Under the rules and laws that govern your case where you live, you may qualify for a court-appointed attorney since, as you describe, your parents can’t afford to hire one for you. You could discuss this with your GAL and ask her to request the court to appoint one for you. You could also contact Community Legal Services in your area to see if they would represent you. Take a look at our Resource Directory for help where you live: http://www.askthejudge.info/directory
      Judges frown on letters or any form of communication directly from parties to a lawsuit. In fact, the rules of judicial ethics in every state prohibit any contact with a person in a lawsuit without the presence of all parties, their lawyers and on the record (in the courtroom). So, if your GAL will not make the request on your behalf, you could ask at your next hearing when everyone involved is present. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).