Click image to view larger. Courtesy of Watershed Treatment.
Our Straight Up intern is 20 and spending the summer in Ventura County. She attends a university in the Pacific Northwest.
Stepping out of my small world of Newbury Park and into a new city, state, and huge University, I was both terrified and excited for what my next few years in the college world would bring. New friends, new experiences, and new knowledge were the aspects of college life I was very prepared to encounter. When it came to marijuana, however, I was left quite unprepared.
High school equipped me with what I thought was everything I needed to know. Don’t drink and drive, never leave your drink unguarded, don’t smoke, talk to someone about your feelings, and always use protection. Alcohol, tobacco, mental health, and safe sex were just about the majority of topics covered in my various health classes and through the guest speakers we were fortunate to welcome to our school. Marijuana, being so controversial, seemed to be left out of the equation.
My marijuana education came from my peers of the college world. I was often told that, “no one has ever died from it” and that, “marijuana isn’t addictive” and finally, “it doesn’t affect your driving like alcohol does”. The myths continued and ranged from the inability to overdose, the reduced rate of cancer spread, the headache relief, the reduced stress, and more. The worst of it all is that I believed them.
As an intern for Straight Up I was presented with the overwhelming problem of marijuana use among our youth. Taking on the role of a myth buster, I decided to do some research about the real truth about marijuana. Almost all of my searches came up with the same myths that I was often presented with in college. No wonder a great majority of people think marijuana is greatly beneficial! I did, however, find a few websites that pointed me in the right direction of busting these myths.
I found that marijuana, in fact, is addictive. About 1 in 11 people who smoke it report becoming addicted and if the habit begins in the adolescent years the rate of addiction jumps to about 1 in 6. Addiction risk isn’t the only problem that adolescent marijuana users face. Marijuana can greatly decrease one’s IQ as well as other mental functionalities and abilities. The hippocampus is greatly targeted by the chemicals in marijuana and memory and learning capacity are disrupted. Users often find themselves unmotivated and achieve less success in their academic and professional careers than non-users. What may be the most shocking is that deaths do occur. About 3 marijuana users die per day and in 2005 they made up 2.5% of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S.
The facts are all here but the access to these facts is greatly limited. The myths preside over the truth and are planted into the minds of our youth. Marijuana needs to be ripped from the shadows of society and brought into the light for all to access and be informed. I challenge all my readers to educate their friends, family, coworkers, and all other peers about the real truth of marijuana. The facts are truly sobering.
- Ventura County marijuana resources and information – Ventura County Limits
- The New DUI: Alcohol, Marijuana or Texting – healtheo360.com
- Is the Grass Always Greener? – AdditionBlog.org