Edmonton Journal

Dec. 29, 1969: Teens take on adults over drug-booze double standard

- CHRIS ZDEB To read more stories from the series This Day in Journal History, go to edmontonjo­urnal.com/ history edmontonjo­urnal. com

Few aspects of society escaped criticism when 220 Alberta teenagers gathered at the Hotel Macdonald for four days to discuss drug use.

The young, “predominan­tly clean-cut” attendees were taking part in the second annual Youth Conference on Alcohol and Drug Problems, sponsored by the Alcohol Education Associatio­n of Alberta, formerly known as the Associatio­n of Temperance Forces in Alberta. They found a double standard exists between their generation’s use of drugs and the older generation’s use of alcohol.

As the main conference speaker, Dr. Winton H. Beaven, president of Columbia Union College, Washington, D.C., sparked discussion when he said drugs were a substitute for personal relationsh­ips, used by unhappy people in a tense world.

“I think all habitual drug users substitute drugs for a relationsh­ip they are missing with another person,” he said. “They form a twosome with their drug.”

The teens fired back during a panel discussion in which one delegate told the doctors and social workers sitting on the panel, “Your generation has had alcohol for its crutch. Why can’t we have ours?

“You can walk into a store and come out with a bottle. We can’t carry a joint of marijuana down the street without being picked up.”

Another complained there should be government control of the sale of marijuana to prevent adulterati­on of the drug.

“When you buy a bottle, you expect good stuff. You don’t want something made in a bathtub.

“Well the same goes for us. When we buy a joint we want to know it is pure, that it hasn’t been treated with opium or something.”

Not all the teens favoured drug use. One girl challenged a peer speaker who said he used drugs to be able to see his problems more clearly and perhaps finds a solution.

“Don’t you think taking drugs is just piling one more problem on top of the ones you already have?” she asked, to which he agreed.

Panel members also had barbs to hurl.

Richard Anthony, the chief crown prosecutor who chaired the panel on Youth and the Establishm­ent, reminded the conference that “not all wisdom dries up after age 21. You can still make changes after you enter the working world.

“You find that when your father is no longer feeding you, you have to conform to some extent to keep bread on the table.”

Unlike previous generation­s, whose addictions were mainly to alcohol, the teens who attended this conference were baby boomers, the first generation to have multiple addictions to illegal drugs and alcohol. Their children and grandchild­ren have followed their lead, according to alcoholreh­ab.com czdeb@edmontonjo­urnal. com

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