To stop marijuana use, adults need to lighten up

By Ariel Levchenko, Online Opinions Editor

Disclaimer: This article in no way endorses marijuana or encourages students to use it. It merely argues that current attitudes toward marijuana use only worsen the issue.

Marijuana is a fairly common topic in high school. Some students have tried it, all have at least heard of it, and joking about the happy grass is a frequent occurrence. However, despite legalization blazing through the country, some people are still adamantly opposing marijuana.

Here’s the blunt truth–23 states and D.C. have legalized marijuana (mostly medical but some recreational). However, our reaction to the drug is still ignorant and aggressive. Our society still violently fears drugs and treats marijuana as if it were the end of civilization.

According to a March 16 Washington Post article, an 11-year-old boy in Virginia was suspended from a school earlier this year for bringing in a marijuana leaf to school.

A pretty fair punishment, right? One problem–the leaf wasn’t marijuana. The offending piece of flora was tested three times, and each time the test came back negative, but he was still suspended. What does this say about our culture?

We really need to lighten up.

The main criticisms we have of marijuana only further prove our ignorance.

Critics of marijuana claim that it’s a gateway drug but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the evidence linking marijuana to use of other drugs is inconclusive at best; most marijuana users do not move on to harder drugs, and any effects that it may have are mirrored by both cigarettes and alcohol.

This by no stretch of the imagination makes marijuana acceptable, but it also by no means validates the fear that marijuana is some great monster that will lead society into depravity and chaos.

Marijuana has a negative effect on developing brains, and long-term constant marijuana use is, without a doubt, bad for teens, just as everything is, including alcohol, caffeine and sugar.

Certainly there are negative effects, but that means that teens need to be properly educated about marijuana, rather than being lectured on its vices. The “just say no!” technique doesn’t work, so it’s time to come up with a different method.

All the current method does is create a situation where teens do dangerous things dangerously, instead of safely, and creates the allure of the forbidden fruit (or plant in this case), which never ends well. We remember this from Prohibition 90 years ago. Bootleggers found a loophole in one word–moonshine.
By banning a product that was in high demand, the government forced citizens to turn to less legal and therefore far more dangerous unregulated black market sources.

That is what’s happening today with weed because it’s a black market drug in most states; it’s not bound by the FDA rulings, which makes it infinitely more dangerous than if it were controlled.
According to the FDA, untested drugs can have unknown and unpredictable consequences, and illegal marijuana is untested marijuana.

We need to face facts – some teenagers use marijuana.

According to the NIDA, at least 20 percent of high school seniors use marijuana once a month.
This is a sign that our methods of dealing with it aren’t working–teens and adults need to stop treating it like a sin, and start working with teens and adults to try and control and regulate it, like other legal drugs.

Our methods of treating marijuana users and the drug itself are wrong, and our policy is a mistake because it places punishment ahead of educating people about marijuana and has thus far yielded no results.

Now teens–you shouldn’t be smoking marijuana, because it is without a doubt dangerous. Adults–if you catch your child smoking, calm down. Take a deep breath (actually, don’t), and react rationally. Sit down and talk with your kid. Satirist Terry Pratchett argued that the right way of dealing with a problem is not to ask, “This is how the people ought to be, how do we change them?” Rather, the answer lies in the question, ‘This is how people are, how do we deal with it?’