If you and I were to do a count of how many times synthetic marijuana turned up in newspaper stories, broadcast reports and the Internet this past month, my guess is there wouldn't be many other subjects that would have grabbed as many headlines in that period.
This week the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder even weighed in on the subject, making it harder for merchants to profit off its sales beginning July 1.
All of which is good, appreciated and welcomed.
But if we think the drug is magically going to disappear from area streets and sidewalks, we're sadly kidding ourselves.
Just as any drug is accessible to those who seek it, so still will be the case with synthetic marijuana. Oh, we might make it harder for kids to secure, and certainly that is a good thing. But for those who really want it, or need it, they will be able to find it.
Instead of walking into a store and purchasing it over the counter, now users will be forced to use the underground black market to make a purchase. And, in a supply and demand economy, probably the price will increase as a result.
I wish I knew what motivated users to dabble with this drug. I wish I knew the reasons that drove young men and women to turn over $30 for a quick high.
For some it may be a lack of self-esteem. Maybe hanging with a "crowd" gives them a needed sense of identity and belonging.
For others it might be rebellion. What better way to show your independence than by going "against the flow" and doing something that society frowns upon.
Still others might find it a stress reliever, or worse, just something to try to relieve the boredom.
I'm not a psychologist, counselor or therapist, but I'd be willing to bet that a lot of the users come from families with many hurts. Naturally there always will be exceptions, but if we interviewed all those who made purchases this week in Alpena, I would say a good many would fit my observation.
Many would be from single family homes. Many would come from homes where at least one parent suffered from some type of addiction. Others would come from homes where at least one parent was unemployed.
And, "hurt" comes in many shapes and sizes. It could be mental or physical abuse, poverty or homelessness. It could be from a home where dad hasn't been seen for years, or where the only "peace" arrives after one parent or the other stops screaming at the other long enough to start drinking, and eventually, passes out.
No, as much as I would hope all the focus these days on synthetic marijuana would wipe it off the face of the earth, unfortunately I know better. I know that until we also successfully begin dealing with the causes, the real root of the problem still exists.
Tomorrow we celebrate Father's Day, and fathers will be honored in many ways.
So as we focus on parenting, and this special day, let's also be reminded that fathering goes beyond planting a seed, it also involves nurturing and growing through good times and bad.
It means most times saying yes, but occasionally, even when painful, also saying no.
It means being there when needed, providing leadership, and disciplining through love. It means treating those in the family with love and respect, not disdain and belittlement.
I believe the real solution to synthetic marijuana begins in the home, with the family, with you and me.
We need the men of our region to be the fathers they need to be for their wives and children.
When that occurs, hopefully things like synthetic marijuana will be but an asterisk in this book of life.