Opinion: Is marijuana dangerous?

Julie Selby

Julie Selby

Julie Selby is a freshman journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Marijuana, cannabis, Mary Jane, weed. No matter the name, it is in the middle of a legal battle across the United States. As people are becoming more aware of the benefits and facts of marijuana, they have been standing up in a fight to make this natural plant legal. However, numerous studies are showing the negative effects of smoking marijuana at a young age.

Back in middle school and high school, the absolute only reason I lost friends was because of their marijuana use. Most of them wanted to get high every weekend. Some of them I drove away because I didn’t approve. Since then, I have grown to accept and respect people’s lifestyles and choices, but I won’t ever forget about the wonderful friendships I have lost to this drug.

I tracked down some of my old middle school friends who actively smoke. None of them are in college, and only one of them has a job. It is really quite a shame, because they were such brilliant kids. According to drugabuse.gov, “Several studies also associate workers’ marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover.”

Many of us have heard that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder drugs. For the time being, it is just a myth, with no hard evidence to prove either way. The same middle school friends I spoke of earlier, however, have tried ecstasy, prescription pills, psychedelic mushrooms and LSD, among other things, since starting marijuana. That was enough to convince me that marijuana can be a gateway drug depending on how often the person uses it. Since they smoked it actively, they yearned for a new and more dramatic high.

I also have many friends who smoke weed and do not end up down the same path of my middle school friends. Studies show that only nine percent of those who smoke marijuana become addicted. A good friend of mine smoked throughout her high school years and is currently studying hard in college without using marijuana nearly as much as she did before.

Most of the people who smoke marijuana do not end up like my middle school friends. They go on to lead successful lives and should not be judged for what they do in their free time. However, addiction is a real problem with marijuana. It is a chance that all users take and some will succumb to. For those of our friends who do succumb, we can only be there to help them through their time of need.

Marijuana is the country’s widest-used illicit drug. It is addictive and is a possible gateway drug, depending on the user and how much the user smokes. Yet, it helps cancer patients through their sickness, it is all-natural and does not have as many hazards as alcohol poses. As the center of much controversy after recently being legalized in two states, we will be hearing about this drug for years to come.