MARIJUANA – Florida’s Next Battleground
While the good news is that overall substance abuse has continued to decrease, anti-drug prevention efforts still have an uphill battle against marijuana to keep Florida teens safe and informed about the dangers of this harmful gateway drug. The state’s medical marijuana initiative has gained momentum with its stated intent for legalization to help those debilitated by serious diseases, but the danger is that this initiative could lead to the perception that marijuana is not a highly dangerous substance and to eventual legalization of cannabis.
Why must you oppose the legalization of marijuana, even medi-pot? We have been fortunate in our community that statistics for teen marijuana abuse have been on the lower side, and we want to keep it that way! Allowing medical marijuana to be readily available may spark a host of unexpected problems with the likelihood that it could wind up in the hands of teens causing dangerous if not deadly consequences. According to a 2012 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nationwide more teenagers are using and abusing marijuana at an increasingly younger age. According to the NIDA report, 17 percent of 10th graders and about 23 percent of 12th graders polled had used marijuana in the past month. The higher rates are largely due to the popularity of marijuana being on the rise and fewer teens seeing the risk. Is there any coincidence that perceived risk by teens has gone down as a result of more public conversation about medical marijuana and the legalization of pot in certain states? Can we really afford to take that risk?
Look at the facts – Marijuana is a harmful and addictive drug. It is known as a gateway to prescription drug and illegal narcotics abuse, but it is also harmful by itself. The earlier a person begins to use marijuana, the more likely that person is to become addicted. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active chemical, produces the high that users obtain from marijuana use. The level of THC has increased in today’s street marijuana, which makes it more addictive and causes disorientation, poor judgment and memory lapse. It may also have unknown chemicals mixed in, so users often don’t really know what they are smoking.
Effects of marijuana use – Short-term effects of marijuana may include problems with memory and learning; distorted sight, sound, time, touch; trouble thinking and problem-solving; loss of coordination; increased heart rate and anxiety. Regular use of marijuana and THC may lead to increased risk for some kinds of cancer, breathing and respiratory or immune system problems. Marijuana contains some of the same cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco smoke. THC has been found to weaken or damage cells and tissues in the body that protect from disease. Scientific studies also show the brains of adolescents are still developing until early to mid 20s, and developing brains are very susceptible to the negative effect of drugs.
Marijuana is a harmful and illegal drug, but still widely accessible to teens wherever they live or attend school. Parents, make it your business to know what is going on with your teen, and to stay educated and informed. Clink on the link below to read a recent U.S. News article published on NBCNews.com about the Drug Policy Alliance and its mission to legalize marijuana and eventually all drugs: