Like one of those Dr. Seuss learning to read sequences, an undeniable and rigorously consistent picture has taken shape in the modern world.
Teenagers take drugs.
Jewish teenagers take drugs.
Secular Jewish teenagers take drugs.
Orthodox Jewish teenagers take drugs.
And unlike former President Clinton, our kids do in fact inhale their reefer. They get stoned in basements; in cars; in parking lots; in parks (I can smell it when I'm jogging); in washrooms; on street corners; at friends' houses; outside Mac’s Milk; at parties; alone; in pairs; in groups; at concerts; with headphones on; with kippot off; as an act of belonging; as an anti-social statement; because they like it; because they're afraid not to like it; to combat depression; to combat boredom; to combat nothing at all; monthly; weekly; daily; as an adjunct to sex; with ascetic purity; to defy their parents; to copy their parents; with giggling followed by hunger; with calm followed by melancholy; hidden in drawers; lockers; pants pockets; zippers; sleeves; front; back; side; with fear; for money; for free; with recklessness; with indifference; with anger; with sweetness; with clarity; with confusion.
As hackneyed as it sounds, every child is different, so by extension every child who has smoked a joint is a different story. Some are perfectly in control children who will doubtless graduate high school and go on to fulfill their parents' dream of medical school and a materially prosperous future. They smoked some doobies, no big deal, they're too smart to throw out their lives on drugs. But for the child who is invested in getting high and the rest of their day is pretty much an asterisk - it doesn't take Freud to see there are some underlying issues.
My experience of Jewish communities in this regard is, to be euphemistic, disappointing, especially the Orthodox populace with which I am familiar. Kids are given a ubiquitous label - "teens at risk" - and then are socially exiled to the hinterlands of the "problem child." It's hard to address what you'd rather not believe and Orthodox kehillot have denial to burn when it comes to believing that there are children who are angry at Judaism; disgusted with their parents; and feeling contempt for their teachers and communal leaders whom they feel have betrayed the spirit of compassion and sophisticated empathy. Whether such a perception is accurate or paranoid or many shades in between is less relevant than how to meet these children with honesty and respect. Instead these young people are often treated as though they are contemporary lepers - a dangerous contagion to be thrust "outside the camp", lest the disease spread.
Love your neighbour as yourself is a fairly empty platitude if it is not applied to those outside of our circle of agreement and social tolerance. As Rav Abraham Isaac Kook writes, "loving the Jewish people and laboring to defend them, both collectively and individually, is not just an emotional task. It is an important discipline in the Torah. It is a deep and broad science with many branches..." When we don't believe in others, is it their characters that are deficient, or our faith?