Marijuana usage and its consequences

As drug usage continues to climb in the United States, students have become desensitized to the use of drugs. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, over 2 million Americans between the ages of 12-17 reported using drugs. One in three high school students in the United States use marijuana. Many adults say it’s due to the recent legalization of both recreational and medical use marijuana for adults, supplying easy access to these substances. The peer pressure and popularity surrounding these drugs make it “cool” by normalizing it as a day-to-day activity. 

The rates of vaping and smoking have risen. This is due to an increase in social anxiety during the COVID-19 Pandemic according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  Social anxiety and fear of COVID have decreased the appeal of partying and socializing in general. However, smoking can be done alone, and is often said to help people calm down.  Marijuana can help ease anxiety in low doses, but many people don’t realize this and take more than needed, which actually can increase anxiety symptoms. 

Research has shown that marijuana has adverse effects on attention, memory, and learning which can last for days or weeks after the drug wears off. Those who smoke daily will most likely be continuing their day-to-day life on a limited intellectual level. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “students who smoke marijuana have poorer educational outcomes than their non-smoking peers. For example, a review of 48 relevant studies found marijuana use to be associated with reduced educational attainment (i.e., reduced chances of graduating).” This is a cause of major concern, as a portion of the students at BHS take part in drug use.

Teens are drinking and partying less, but the rates of vaping and smoking have risen.  High prevalence of anxiety and mental illness have also driven teens to smoking as a way to cope. In fact, smoking often has the opposite effect. As Truth Initiative states, “though nicotine has not been found to cause mental health conditions directly, peer-reviewed studies reveal troubling links between vaping, nicotine, and worsening symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as higher odds of having a depression diagnosis.” As mentioned before, marijuana use can increase the likelihood of depression or anxiety, cause developmental issues in teens, and risks physical disorders.

We interviewed a sophomore who preferred to remain anonymous due to the legal consequences of marijuana use. “I smoke it regularly, medically, due to the fact that I have autism.” Marijuana can sometimes be the only thing that helps keep students going. If that’s the case it could be beneficial to reach out and talk to someone if you need help. 

Some students also use marijuana for recreational purposes. One senior stated, “Weed was a safe and fun experience for my first time, and I’m lucky to have that.” These students would argue that marijuana is beneficial to them.

However others disagree, another sophomore warned that “it’s so important to be in tune with your body, checking in. Don’t smoke if you’re sad, it is not always the answer. Use it for the positive effects and benefits. Don’t smoke to take away feelings, and evaluate your relationship with marijuana.” 

Make sure to know the effects that may occur when using marijuana. It is of utmost importance to know what is in the drugs that are being consumed and how it could affect a person short and long term. It’s hard when the pressure to do something (or not do it) is coming from all sides. Understanding an issue is the first step to prevention.