Teens and Weed

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By Thamar Jones
So I would bet that you know dozens of people who smoke pot. Your friends may have tried it… and perhaps you. And you might be thinking what’s the big deal? If my parents
and other adults in my life can smoke, then I should be able to smoke too.
As public perception of marijuana continues to change and there are now talks of legalization, you may be ready to accept it as a new norm in our society and may even be more likely to use.
Before you celebrate the pending legalization and get to rolling a joint, you should know that while marijuana is perfectly fine for most adults, current research shows that
the drug has a negative impact on brain development and the mental health of young people, including anxiety, problem- solving, and memory. Young people should abstain altogether or wait to start using marijuana. Besides, even if legalized, it will remain illegal for minors.
Here are some myths commonly believed by young people as it pertains to marijuana
Myth: Marijuana is all natural and is so much safer than cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs!
Fact: Marijuana smoke can damage your lungs and cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) just like tobacco. People who smoke marijuana inhale deeper and hold the smoke for longer, which increases tar exposure when compared to cigarettes.
The ingredients and strengths of marijuana are not exactly the same from plant to plant. Right now, there’s no way to know for sure what kind and how much of a chemical you’re
getting from home-grown plants.
Additionally, levels of THC in marijuana continue to increase. In 1995, THC (marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient) was 4%, and in 2019 the average THC level rose
to over 20%.
Myth: With a vape, I won’t have the negative impacts of smoking so I don’t have to worry.
Fact: While vaping may seem healthier than smoking, you still inhale chemicals in your lungs that may cause respiratory issues. There are higher concentrations of THC
when you are dabbing or using hash, and vaping may produce a more dangerous high than smoking.
Myth: Well, if smoking or vaping isn’t good for me, I can always eat brownies or something.
Fact: Unfortunately, edibles have their own risks too. The delay in the high caused by THC can cause people to ingest too much marijuana, which may result in a prolonged high
and that could include hallucinations, paranoia, panic attacks, or trigger a psychotic episode.
25% of high school students think that half or more of the students in their grade used marijuana sometime in the past month. However, 70% of high school students in Berrien
County have not tried marijuana. While you may think many of your peers are using cannabis products, the statistics show this is not the case.
The bottom line is just because marijuana is decriminalized and available readily, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmful! Many harmful substances, including alcohol and cigarettes, are available to the public. Many negative effects of marijuana don’t show up until later in life. Any kind of smoking causes lung damage, and marijuana smoke is just as harmful as nicotine smoke. More immediately, marijuana can influence mood disorders like anxiety and depression, which can affect performance in school and sports.
A clear and drug free state of mind is still the best way to be!