June 17, 2015 - 8:00am
Continued debates about health issues related to marijuana have taken center stage since its legalization in Colorado and Washington State. Medicinal marijuana is legal in 20 states, and recreational marijuana has been decriminalized in 17 states.
The National Institutes of Health reported that 60% of students in the 12th grade believe marijuana is harmless. Approximately 6% of these students have stated they are using marijuana on a regular basis. The deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse stated that a number of investigations are underway to determine whether the public's opinion has changed due to the new laws regarding the drug. With the increasing number of 12th graders using marijuana, the National Institute of Health has growing concerns.
Studies have shown that teens using marijuana on a heavy daily basis over a long period of time can result in abnormal brain functioning, and poor memory performance on many tests. Studies have found people with abnormally shaped brains had been using marijuana when they were quite young.
A Gallup poll revealed that the majority, 58% of people, support legalization. This is a large increase from a poll that was taken in 1969, which weighed in at 12%. More and more people are understanding the rick of smoking, as smoking usually leads to cancer. So medical marijuana patients are using alternative ways such as a vape pen. A vape, also known as a vaporizer does not burn marijuana, but actually vaporizes the dry herbs, leaving no smoke, but only vapor.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws believes the internet is a big contributor to public opinions. People have access to an enormous amount of scientific information regarding this drug. Depending on the writer's conclusions, they can sway readers quite easily.
It's believed that new changes in legalization have lead people to believe marijuana is perfectly safe. Dr. Compton, of the National Institute of Health, does not believe marijuana is safe, but public opinion doesn't see it that way, so legal changes are being approved. This organization is becoming progressively concerned with the growth of recreational marijuana use, especially among young kids. Teens are going through a critical development stage, and the impact of marijuana may have a significant effect on their brains.
Author David Sheff has written extensively on drug addiction in America, and believes the public's knowledge regarding marijuana is incomplete and misleading. He also believes the truth about addiction is being lost on teens.
Many scientists believe more research needs to be conducted on marijuana. Doctors and scientists believe this drug could be somewhere in between harmful and harmless. Where medicinal marijuana may prove to be helpful, the wrong dosage could be harmful. Dr. Compton believes many medications, especially stimulants, in the right hands, can be beneficial, but in the wrong hands, can be very dangerous.
There are also growing concerns about kids smoking marijuana as a replacement for cigarettes. David Sheff believes that schools and communities need to target marijuana in the same way they are targeting cigarettes and alcohol. Cigarette smoking in the 8th grade through the 12th grade has dropped
Substantially, to 9.6% from the staggering 24.7% in 1993. Ad campaigns and social disapproval of cigarettes have turned many away from smoking. Unfortunately, the public now believes smoking marijuana is a “safe alternative.”
Clearly, educators have done a good job of helping people understand the dangers of tobacco and alcohol, because their efforts have caused a major decline in both. That same type of focus should be directed toward marijuana until more is known about the drug.
A survey showed that kids, who live in states where medicinal marijuana is legal, are able to get marijuana from another person's prescription. The percentage of 12th graders who are smoking marijuana is 34%.
Researchers will continue to survey the link between state laws and the accessibility of marijuana for teens.
Some researchers believe that social stress, tension, and other elements in our society have been a major factor leading to more kids using marijuana.