Marijuana is the number one most abused drug in the world. Although marijuana may help people medically. Having marijuana legalized can increase the risk of drug use within adolescence and children because they will believe if the substance is legal it isn’t as bad. This will cause the children to misuse the substance. A solution to the problem is providing a drug prevention program, developing and exposing children to a school-based marijuana treatment program. Marijuana has been illegal for many years and people still found access to it from different aspects. People start using marijuana at a young age and get expose to it from their peers usually when they start middle school or high school. Now that marijuana is legal it may be more known and easier to access for children and adolescence making it a danger because at the end marijuana is a drug that can cause harm. Legalizing medical marijuana has led to increased drug abuse among children and adolescents. This I experienced first hand.

As I was standing there holding this piece of brown paper that was wrapped in with something inside. I remember thinking that it wasn’t a cigarette, which I wasn’t sure if that made it okay or not. Since it wasn’t and all my friends were smoking it I thought it would be okay to try it. My eyes crept down at the paper and I heard a voice, “Come on Shalveen, hit the blunt,” it was my turn to do something that I was still indecisive about. I looked up at the voice to see who it came from and at this point I didn’t know how to say no, my mouth opened to deny that so called “hit” they wanted me to take but the sense of peer pressure drew upon me. Nervousness began building up along with hesitation because I hadn’t experienced this sensation and getting high before. But if I didn’t smoke it, would my image change in front my friends, would they accept my decision, would they laugh, would they consider me an outsider. As the thoughts kept roaming around I heard another voice from the distance, “Hey man is she gonna hit it or nah?” as my glance went to the distance I saw Dylan, one of best friend’s walking in. He seemed mad that I was taking so long to do something that probably took my friends seconds to do. I looked down at the piece of paper and bringing it up to my mouth. I heard my voice crack as I asked, “What does it feel like and what will happen if I smoke it?” Dylan then stated, “Nah it’s not even bad, it will just make you feel mellow, you will be fine!” I then brought it back up to my mouth as I took the first puff from the blunt. My throat immediately felt dry as this burning sensation hit me and before I could do anything my throat began to itch I couldn’t bare it anymore as I began to cough. Even though I hated the sensation I tried not to show it in my appearance that I was in pain, and the irritation it gave my throat so I continued until I reached that “high” sensation everyone talks about. This experience wasn’t one that I wanted to ever experience again because of the discomfort and feeling it gave me. As I entered high school I began to distance myself from my friends that were considered “cool” kids because of smoking marijuana. Almost half way into high school I still paid attention to my old friends who began slowly but surely not come to school as often. Sometimes on my way home I would see them at the park together smoking. I never saw my friends back to the way they once were; fun, loving, and caring. I was definitely glad when I realized how low they had gone in their lives and was thankful that I didn’t continue with an addiction like them. They hit rock bottom, and I couldn’t believe that people who once supported me in good could lose themselves to a drug that made things superficial. Unrecognizable, lost, delusional, marijuana had taken away their identity and replaced it for good.

Children and adolescence will have more exposure to marijuana because it now being legalized. Many people think that since it is legal in some places, it must be safe. Marijuana has been around for a long time and it has been changing. There are many powerful strains, making it more dangerous then before. For example, “Marijuana users are more likely to report experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression and risk behaviors such as heavy episodic drinking, driving under the influence… higher numbers of sexual partners” (Napper 364). When marijuana was illegal children were still able to access it. Now that marijuana is legal, family and peers might have marijuana at home making it more readily available to the children. This will be something they might see as a norm. Most households have cough medicine, Advil or Tylenol available and if one utilizes marijuana it may show that marijuana is just like any other off the counter medicine. Another example is, “Actual marijuana use was significantly greater than parents’ perception of their child’s use, while students’ perception of their parent’s approval were fairly accurate” (Napper 364). This statement shows that parents under estimated the availability of marijuana that their child may have access too. Though children knew whether their parent’s reaction towards their use of marijuana would be perceived negatively or positively. Students knew what they would expect from their parents and they still chose to utilize the substance. Parents should start to look more into the lives of their children and adolescents so that the use of marijuana will not rise.  One must find a solution so children are not as exposed or have a greater chance to abuse the substance resulting in experiencing the negative impact.

       Having a solution for children and adolescence so they are not abusing the substance can help them understand how harmful a drug can be. Even though marijuana is legal children can over come the side affects. Also educating the children more towards what marijuana is, why it is legal and how it can be bad for them. For example, “researchers noted that investing I substance use prevention programs may have played a role in keeping prevalence down and that other states should make such investments” (Knopf 6). This was a research done in Colorado where they used a prevention program to keep marijuana use at a minimum because marijuana was legalized their before other states. Two solutions we can use are drug prevention programs and school based marijuana treatment programs. This can teach the students life skills that they can use in risky situation involving drugs. The other program will help students who are found under the influence at school could enroll in the program instead of facing consequences. For example, “… programs provide anti-drug information combined with the development of refusal skills (drug and alcohol related refusal skills, cognitive behavior skills and networking with non drug using adolescents) self management skills … social skills” (Lamestra 85). Having a program that can help children and adolescent learn what marijuana is and how one can deal with marijuana can help their future as a whole. An example of an effective program is the life skills training (LST) program. This program, “Dramatically reduces tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use … [studies show] … that the program works with a diverse range of adolescents, produces results that are long lasting” (Gorman 470). Programs like LST are what can help children see the different aspects of marijuana and future consequences of abuse. Though children can still face peer pressure they will have the knowledge and facts from the program to make wiser decisions. Marijuana can be helpful though children can avoid abusing marijuana by following the solutions by being in the programs.

All in all, if kids see marijuana as meds they opt to dismiss its harms. Marijuana can cause effects on the respiratory system and impair judgment. Legalizing marijuana gives the approval and sends the message to kids that drug use is not only harmless, but normal. This is why children will have more exposure to marijuana but having the option of joining the programs and developing higher knowledge towards marijuana and how it may cause harm can be affective.

Works Cited

Gorman, Dennis. “Does the Life Skills Training Program Reduce Use of Marijuana??.” Addiction Research & Theory, vol. 19, no. 5, Oct. 2011, pp. 470-481. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3109/16066359.2011.557164.

Knopf, Alison. “Marijuana Legalization: What Effect Does It Have on Teens?.” Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, vol. 33, no. 2, Feb. 2017, pp. 1-7. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/cbl.30188.

Lemstra, Mark, et al. “A Systematic Review of School-Based Marijuana and Alcohol Prevention Programs Targeting Adolescents Aged 10–15.” Addiction Research & Theory, vol. 18, no. 1, Feb. 2010, pp. 84-96. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3109/16066350802673224.

Napper, Lucy, et al. “Perceived Parent and Peer Marijuana Norms: The Moderating Effect of Parental Monitoring during College.” Prevention Science, vol. 16, no. 3, Apr. 2015, pp. 364-373. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s11121-014-0493-z.

“Watch Truth About Drugs Documentary Video & Learn About Substance Addiction. Get The Facts About Painkillers, Marijuana, Cocaine, Meth & Other Illegal Drugs.” Foundation for a Drug-Free World, Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 10 Apr. 2006.