Reevaluating the progressive strides with marijuana

Lately, it seems as if everyone has hopped aboard the “legalize marijuana” movement. In November, Massachusetts voters will make the decision about whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Question 4 on the ballot will allow for those 21 and over to use, growand possess it. Currently in Massachusetts, it is only legal if used for medicinal purposes. Voting yes to legalize it is going to have serious ramifications that many people are just simply ignoring.

For one, has everyone forgotten that smoking, whether it be cigarettes or marijuana, are bad for one’s health? Or does everyone not care anymore? Besides the obvious heightened risk for lung, throat and mouth cancer, a recent study by Northwestern University has linked chronic use of marijuana with schizophrenia. The study reported that the younger a person was when they began using marijuana chronically, the more abnormally their brain regions were shaped. Lead study author Matthew Smith, an assistant research professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine claims that “The study links the chronic use of marijuana to these concerning brain abnormalities that appear to last for at least a few years after people stop using it.”

The American Medical Association has also taken a strong stand against the legalization of marijuana on the grounds that it causes impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood and psychotic thought disorders, especially among adolescents. Even now, it seems like everyone knows at least one person who had to stop smoking because of a bad experience, and if you don’t, there are plenty of people who will tell you their bad experiences on YouTube. Many people who have had miserable or terrifying experiences with marijuana have uploaded videos urging others to listen to their story and learn from their mistakes. Everyone seems to believe that just because it is known as the safest drug out there that it should be legalized. However, it is still exactly that- a drug.

Legalizing marijuana is only going to create more problems down the road, especially for the youth in this country. They are the ones that are most at risk for health problems and addiction later in life. Although many will claim that they will not be exposed to it because it will only be available for people 21 and up, this too is false. Just take a look at alcohol for example.

If a teen is really interested in drinking they are going to steal from their parents liquor cabinet, or ask a trusted older brother or friend to provide it for them. Just because it will only be available for purchase to 21-year-olds, that doesn’t mean that people younger will not be able to get their hands on it.

Legalizing marijuana is a danger to the general public’s safety as well. If it is legalized, the nation will not only have to combat drunk driving, but will also surely see an increase in drivers who are under the influence of marijuana. This doesn’t just put the smokers at risk, but also anyone else who is on the road. That means that our parents coming home from work, our brothers and sisters driving home from school- everyone could be affected.

Many people are under the impression that marijuana is not addicting, a myth that has been proven entirely false. Lady Gaga is just one of many who have openly spoken out about marijuana addiction. “I just want young kids to know that you actually can become addicted to it, and there’s this sentiment that you can’t and that’s actually not true.” Marijuana can be addicting, and is a very difficult drug to break away from once hooked. Chronic smokers will eventually need larger and larger quantities of the drug in order to achieve the same high that they once felt. Once the drug no longer serves them their desired high, this is when people turn to different, harder substances, hence how marijuana has been labeled the “gateway drug.”

The argument that marijuana is “natural” and therefore safer to use is completely irrelevant and misleading. Yes, it is a plant. However, there are plenty of natural substances that are toxic and dangerous, yet you won’t find us out smoking them. So before the November vote, we should all be educating ourselves a little bit more about the serious ramifications that our vote YES could lead to, for both stoners and non-smokers alike.