Some say yes and some say no. As the marijuana debate reaches a fevered pitch, it could be sending a dangerous message to our youth. Why? Many are seeing it as “not so bad after all.” Why? Many are seeing the medical uses. This does send a mixed message. While there are medical benefits to using marijuana, this is not a license for just anyone to use it. Let’s explore this issue a bit further.
Are Professisonals Doing Anything to Help?
Yes and no. There are many who are using this information to help educate the youth. They are trying to show how it’s a gateway drug. That it can lead to potential long-term effects. Professionals are also trying to impress upon the youth about the addictive nature of the drug. For some it’s habit forming, for others it’s not. Not every person or situation is the same.
Still counselors and education experts are trying to teach the youth. The question remains, is it getting anywhere with them? There are teens who are listening and allowing it to make an impact. For others, it goes in one ear and out the other.
Some Surprising Statistics
There are facts on either side of the debate that tend to justify both the negative and the positive aspects about the substance. For instance:
- Comparing 2004 and 2010, in 2004, more adults believed that teen marijuana use was wrong. In 2010, those statistics went down.
- In 2004, about 70% of sophomores believed that people looked down on them for the drug use. For seniors it was closer to 60%.
- In 2010, the number of sophomores declined to 68%. The number of seniors dropped by 10%.
These numbers are very telling. As more people accept the idea of marijuana use being okay, the less younger people are being looked down upon. These numbers are not in defense of marijuana use. All it’s showing is that people are becoming less uptight about those who use it.
Are More Teens Smoking Marijuana Now?
This can be considered a loaded question in many respects. In some demographics the number is going down. In other circles, the number is increasing. Comparing 2004 and 2010 respectively, the numbers in certain areas have increased. The numbers have increased from 19% to 22%. For other demographics, the numbers have increased from 39% to 44%. This might not seem like a big deal, but for some it is.
Is it Becoming More of an Issue?
Just because you legalize marijuana, doesn’t mean everyone is going to use it. They have yet to ban alcohol and not everyone drinks. There is cause for concern though.
Many teens will use this as an excuse to engage in the activity. There are those who will use it for medicinal purposes, even if it’s not needed. This is where part of the problem lies. Some teens will use this as a license to get some and try it. They will do this in spite of the dangers behind it.
How Can We Further Help Teens Abstain?
There is more to proper education then just simply saying, “No, you can’t use it.” You tell a child not do something, that is all they will want to do. What you need to do is properly inform them. How? Here are some ways to do this:
- If the word “natural” is brought up, there is a way around this. Just explain that “arsenic” is a natural herb, also. Just because something grows out of the ground, doesn’t mean it’s safe. You have to be smart about this.
- Those who use marijuana on a regular basis will have issues with their memory later on in life. The effects have a rippling effect. Those individuals might have a harder time recalling certain things.
- The active ingredient is cannabis. With cannabis you get the feeling of excitement while also feeling mellow and calm. When you come down from it, life seems pretty boring.
- When it comes to excessive use, a good analogy is drinking. It’s the difference between having just one beer or a dozen. The more you drink, the more numb and happy you will feel; but, the person’s memory is affected. Either way, long term use will have a huge impact on the person later on.
First, they need to be honest with themselves and try to think clearly about how the drug is affecting their life. It’s like any other drug out there on the market, it has both good and bad effects. Teens needs to look at the negative effects it’s having. This is a hard thing for many to do. Why? Most only want to see the good side of the drug and how it makes them feel.
Speak to them about a program. Encourage teens to look at more educational materials. Encourage them to view stories of those whose lives have been destroyed. Sometimes just seeing those stories will serve as a wake up call.