Marijuana use is low despite legalization

According to CNN, one in eight U.S. adults say they smoke marijuana.

According to CNN, one in eight U.S. adults say they smoke marijuana.

Katie Pope, Staff Writer

According to the Washington Post, in Colorado from 2010-2015, the use of recreational marijuana has decreased among 10th and 12th graders.  Even with the growing acceptance of the drug, researchers have found that increased accessibility has no significant effect on usage. Ever since Colorado and Washington first legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 for adults over the age of 21, Alaska, California, Nevada, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts and D.C. later legalized it as well. 

Many suspected that the exploitation of marijuana would increase with legalization, however that is not the case. Perhaps teens have a better understanding of the dangers than most think. The constant health lessons that emphasize the effects of smoking have left an impression on many teens, deterring them from smoking despite growing acceptance in the U.S.

According to the Fairfax County Public School youth survey results, 2% of eighth graders used marijuana in 2015.  9.3% of tenth graders used marijuana in 2015, and 20% of twelfth graders used marijuana in 2015 within Fairfax County Public Schools.

“I think smoking is one of the worst things someone can do to their body,” senior Hunter Sloan said. “Marijuana can make a person do things they wouldn’t normally do and it fills your lungs with smoke and kills brain cells.”

Professional Alzheimer Scientist, psychiatrist and founder of  the U.S.-based Amen Clinics, Dr. Daniel Amen, researched the effects of marijuana on the brain.  His research led to his theory that smoking marijuana restricts blood flow to the brain therefore causing damage to the memory as well as the ability to reason. The main damage that the brain scans revealed was abnormally low blood flow to the brain, specifically in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that regulates emotions and is associated with long-term memory.

Even with the legalization of marijuana, people are still opposed to it and its bad influence. Additionally with social media taking over teens’ lives, celebrities who advertise their smoking activities surprisingly do not seem to be affecting usage rates either.

Still, there are some advocates of legalizing the drug nationwide because they believe that there will be more positive effects in the community aspect.

“I think it should be legal because all the drama and violence and all the issues that are coming from it is because it’s illegal,” senior Bitania Endalkachew said. “You should not regulate what I put into my body.”

With the topic of marijuana spreading all over the internet, community and news, it would seem reasonable for smoking to become more common; however, the majority of people still do not smoke. The concern and negative connotation of weed is still very much present and recreational use may not rise in upcoming years despite legalization.

Recreational marijuana has yet to be legalized in all fifty states, but if it is eventually legalized nationwide, will it affect the teenager’s futures? According to these recent studies, probably not. Usage rates may continue to follow this trend and remain low. The general knowledge of marijuana and its possible risks remains imprinted into the public’s mind and despite outside influences, smoking is not increasing.