Mary Jane. Weed. Medically known by its scientific name, cannabis, whatever you call it, marijuana is still popular among young people. Its first documented historical introduction to the US was in 1937 when the Marihuana Tax Act was passed and both hemp and cannabis were prohibited. Yet, from this time through 1951, about 41,000 pounds of weed were grown in the boroughs of New York City until it was destroyed by the White Wing Squad. The plants were incinerated in Woodside, Queens in New York City.
Legalization of weed has been something today’s youth are pushing for because they believe with the widespread use of the drug, the government could make so much money off the taxes of it. Weed became popular in the sixties and seventies when drug and sex experimentation was in full swing. There are many reasons why people choose to use weed. The one used to promote legalization is that marijuana has medicinal purposes because it can relieve nausea and vomiting in patients active in chemotherapy, and increase appetite in patients with HIV/AIDS. Yet, the government doesn’t see this as enough reason to legalize it which I believe is pushing the illegal popularity of the drug even more due to the obvious fact that when something is off limits, it becomes a bit more intriguing and desirable.
In interviewing an anonymous college age student, I found that she started smoking marijuana at the age of sixteen mostly because she was influenced by her friends, and liked that it “relaxes you, is good for anxiety, and takes your mind off your problems.” Once she tried it once, she noticed her use of it became more frequent but had one incidence with a pot brownie that caused a heavy dose of paranoia, a known side effect of the drug. A recent University of Michigan study revealed this college student is just a number among her peers as it revealed that more students are smoking pot either every day or at least 20 times in the previous 30 days than are smoking cigarettes daily. Other drugs my interviewee has tried include mushrooms.
Weed has been said to have multiple adverse effects that include negative changes in attention, motor ability, and short-term memory are associated with very recent (12 to 24 hours) marijuana use, people who smoke it on a daily basis can become dependent on it, and if exposed at an early age to the drug have a higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder such as anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar, and even acute or chronic psychosis. In other words, avid marijuana users are at risk for developing delusions and seeing and hearing hallucinations.
Physical adverse effects can include a higher risk of cancer because of the THC in cannabis and chronic bronchitis symptoms in the lungs. Effects on short-term memory are also documented as an adverse effect of regular use of the drug. A popular drug among college age peers is Molly, or a form of Ecstasy, a psychedelic drug that a lot of young people use before going to EDM clubs and music festivals. Even Miley Cyrus made reference to it in her hit song, “We Can’t Stop.” Yet, although mushrooms and Molly are becoming popular, weed is still a party favorite among college kids.
By Chelsea DeVries