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Marijuana use by teens has increased in the past few years, and it raises many concerns for the future.

Marijuana is the newest in a long line of legalized vices,  and access to the drug and its paraphernalia is at an all time high.

Victoria Steffee

Marijuana is the newest in a long line of legalized vices, and access to the drug and its paraphernalia is at an all time high.

by Victoria Steffee, Editor

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Dec. 11, 2018

 

In Washington state, marijuana has been legal ever since Initiative 502 passed in 2012. Its effects have been visible throughout the state, especially within the teenage population. Teen use of marijuana has steadily increased since, even though it is illegal for anyone underage to possess any amount of the drug.

There are many reasons why teens smoke. Marijuana is both a depressant and a stimulant, which means the high it produces can be highly addictive. Some people use it as medication, either for pain relief or mental health. However, there are just as many recreational users who use marijuana solely to get high.

“It’s fun and a good bonding experience,” said one recreational user, who requested to be anonymous. Marijuana isn’t hard to come by. It can come from siblings, friends, or any adult with legal access.

The laws regarding pot take a hard stance against even the slightest recreational use by minors. If a minor is caught with any amount of marijuana in their possession, it is an automatic misdemeanor. If a minor is caught driving while high, they will get their license revoked for one year.

There are also physical consequences to using marijuana. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has documented both short and long term effects. While high, a person experiences an altered sense of reality, impaired memory and, with high doses, psychosis. With regular use, especially in teens, there is documentation of it impairing brain development. Researchers hypothesize that marijuana can cause a loss of IQ points, though that is still in the observational phase. Most smokers are aware of the physical risks.

“I would way rather eat a brownie than swallow smoke into my lungs,” said the anonymous user, concerned about things like lung cancer or other respiratory issues. However, they do not believe that marijuana has impacted their grades. They even stated that their grades are better now than they were before, though they admitted that they are a firm believer in moderation and sometimes goes weeks without smoking anything.

Victoria Steffee
One should always remember the dangers of blazing it.

Marijuana is an addictive substance, just like alcohol or tobacco, and it takes time and effort to stop using it once a person is hooked. The sheriff’s office recommends using the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s hotline (1-800-662-4357) for advice about addiction and drug treatment. Drugrehab.org has a list of ten drug rehab clinics in Kitsap County, each with different treatments. Some have a religious base, while others have juvenile focused programs.   

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