Cannabis: Lawful, Responsible, and Not Too Bad!

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Marijuana - also known as pot, Ganja, Bomb, Mary Jane, Fire, hash, and sticky-icky - has been around since life first sprouted from the Earth. This legendary plant is most notorious for it’s seven-pointed leaf shape, as well as it’s narcotic and hallucinogenic powers. It’s smell is easily identifiable. It’s strong influence on many people, young and old, is undeniable. Marijuana is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most controversial and interesting drugs of our time.  

When asked to describe the green machine in one word, some students came up with, “relaxing,” and, “fun,” while others called the drug, “deficient,” and, “influential,” (in the negative sense of the word).  

In Colorado especially, the surge in sweet ‘ol Mary Jane use has gone up exponentially. In November of 2012, the legalization of selling medical marijuana was constitutionally approved. Two years later, the legalization of recreational marijuana was enacted by voters. Amendment 64, (which states the legalization and exceptions to marijuana in Colorado), says that marijuana, medical and recreational, can only be consumed and exist in the possession of an adult 21 years of age or older. Even with this hefty age restriction, however, there are still skeptics.  

“I believe that people shouldn’t smoke marijuana because it’s a trend. It has become an overwhelming issue at Central and students should start caring about their health,” said an Aurora Central Senior when asked about his thoughts on marijuana.   On the other hand, “There’s really nothing wrong with it. People use it for medical reasons and to just relax, and in that sense, they’re better than cigarettes with not nearly as many issues,” An Aurora Central Junior said. Marijuana use among underage teens has been a hot button issue leading the marijuana prohibitionist regime. Their concerns stem mainly from the possibility of use among growing minors and the potential health issues.  

But listen here, bud: according to the Colorado Department of Public Health, a survey showed that marijuana use among high school students have gone down despite the legalization of marijuana, and in 2013 alone, 37 percent of high school students reported that they have never tried marijuana. That number was down from 39 percent in 2011. The percentage of kids who reported using marijuana in the previous month, (a.k.a “current” use), went from 22 percent in 2011 to only 20 percent in 2013.”  

If that's so, then what other basis do those who oppose all use and legalization of this drug have? Well, let's examine some of the health factors:   According to www.drugabuse.gov, the only proven health risks with “sticky-icky” include short-term effects such as:  

    • altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors)
    • altered sense of time
    • changes in mood
    • impaired body movement and memory
    • difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
 

However, the site also states that, “A study showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing cannabis use disorder lost an average of eight IQ points between ages 13 and 38.” There’s also a study that suggests smoking marijuana before the age of 25 depletes the growth of the frontal lobe of the brain; marijuana messes with learning capabilities, motor skills, and overall development of the brain.  

On the other hand, there are no conclusive studies to show that marijuana definitely causes health problems as major as the effects caused by other drugs such as meth, heroin, or cocaine; people even contest to marijuana having magical healing powers. According to the Business Insider, marijuana can be used to treat ailments such as Glaucoma, reverse the carcinogenic effects of tobacco and improve lung health, help control epileptic seizures, and other assist with various other issues.  

So how bad can the green little leaf be? If handled responsibly and within the limits of the law, marijuana can rid itself of the stigmatism placed upon it.  

(The high school students who were quoted in this article requested to stay anonymous).