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He just says no to friends using pot

DEAR AMY: I am "old school" when it comes to this particular situation, and I am sure I will get flamed by other readers if you publish this letter. Marijuana is a deal breaker for me in friendships and family relationships. I have seen it become a gateway drug in the lives of relatives, and I have seen it change personalities of people I love -- and not for the better. In my experience, habitual pot smokers lose motivation and become irritable until they have a toke. Communication with them seems warped. I am aware that there are some people who can smoke occasionally without ill effect. I just don't know them. I am actually in favor of legalization because I think it should be decriminalized and put into a category with liquor. I smoked a lot of pot in high school, and eventually stopped because I felt paranoid when I was stoned. My ambition and motivation were definitely affected. I would like to gain some balance on this issue. Thanks for your help.

-- Sober

DEAR SOBER: You should not feel defensive about choosing sobriety.

If you have pot users in your life and you feel increasingly unable or unwilling to tolerate being around them when they are using, you can say, "No smoking in my home. If you're at my house and I believe you're high, I'm going to ask you to leave. If I'm around you when you're high, I'm going to leave."

I believe everything about chronic pot usage that you report, although I do believe that -- as with alcohol -- some people are probably able to use marijuana occasionally without overly negative consequences. (Remember, pot does not seem to have been a "gateway" for you.) You have a right to draw a line around behavior you aren't willing to tolerate. The trick to doing this is not to judge or infringe on someone else's freedom (outside your home). Your attitude should be, "You can make whatever choice you want. My choice is not to be around it."

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