Opinion -- The drug, marijuana, has been painted to seem harmless among the youth in America. States like California and Colorado have taken steps to ensure the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana. So, what is it about this drug that sparks such controversy among Americans? Some people argue that marijuana provides healthy medical effects, while others argue that marijuana is destructive to the health of individuals and to society. Ultimately, in regard to the drug, marijuana is a threat to the younger generation and will have hazardous repercussions on society in the future if action is not taken against it.
On high school and college campuses, many of the younger kids are experimenting with marijuana because of how easily they can attain it. Because states like California, Colorado, and Washington have completely legalized the drug, it paints a dangerous image to adolescents that marijuana is not a harmful drug. In Washington, statistics show that the perceived harm of marijuana reduced by 14% among eighth graders and 16.1% among 10th graders.1 Instead of viewing marijuana as a drug, many now refer to it as a “natural,” plant-based medicinal treatment. While marijuana is a medicinal treatment for some, many use this as an excuse for recreational use, despite not having any ailments that medical marijuana would treat. Although marijuana does come from a plant, we have to realize that cocaine and other opioids are also plant-based. Marijuana is not a safe drug, and is proven to be detrimental to a person’s health. Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse 2 shows, that marijuana has long term effects on an individual's cognitive abilities. The drug majorly affects adolescents whose brains are still heavily developing, which as a result, decreases their ability to verbally communicate, remember things, and focus.
It is also alarming to see statistics in Colorado regarding the increase in unintentional pediatric exposure to marijuana. Following the legalization of marijuana in Colorado in 2012, the state had a 34% increase in unintentional exposure in contrast to a 19% increase in other states who had not legalized the drug.3 This serves to show how marijuana can affect both the smoker and those who are around them. In the study above, the median age of those who were exposed were 2 years old. Exposure to this drug at an early age is extremely harmful to the child and can create dangerous health problems in the future.
If action is not taken against the legalization and use of this drug, Americans will experience a new generation of youth who are in need of treatment for mental instability and cognitive disorders. Marijuana is a highly addictive drug, and once taken, your brain will be permanently damaged. It is proven that “children who use marijuana are also 85 times more likely to use cocaine than non-marijuana users.”4 Marijuana opens the door to a very dangerous path of addiction. Many Americans do not realize that this drug not only harms an individual, but it will destroy an entire family. A person becomes lifeless after the continual use of these drugs which affects their relationships with family and friends.
It is important that we, as the younger generation, and conservatives take steps to prevent the introduction of marijuana into being a societal norm. This drug is a threat to American values because it alters the nerves in the brain to make people lazy and unwilling to learn in class. The American spirit is one built on hard work, family values, and determination to succeed, not dependency on a drug. Therefore, marijuana not only destroys the health of an individual, but it sucks the American spirit from them.
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