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Legalization of Marijuana
Kaitlyn Cannon
Arizona State University

Legalization of Marijuana

According to Morin, 25-50 percent of the 1 in 6 people who start using marijuana as a

teen, become addicted (2017). Teens abusing the use of marijuana is becoming a bigger issue in

today’s society. Most teens are unaware of the effects the use of marijuana may bring upon them.

An article by Ammerman, states that marijuana is said to be the most commonly used illicit

substance used by adolescents (2015). Ammerman is stating that marijuana is the number one

most common drug that is being used in the younger generation today. This may be a surprise to

some, but there are many effects that are coming from the legalization of marijuana to youths. In

today’s society, there is a huge debate that is arising for whether or not marijuana should be

legalized for recreational use. One major key in this debate is the issue of youths abusing

marijuana and youths thinking that the drug is okay just because it is legal. The use of marijuana

by adolescents is an issue that should not be ignored. By states legalizing marijuana, may just be

opening the doors to many young adults to get their hands on it easier and abuse the drug. Many

young adults don’t realize that by using marijuana before their brains are fully developed creates

a negative impact on them in their future. Not only this, but there is a chance of a teen becoming

addicted to the drug when it is being used in such an early age. This is a problem that is

becoming over seen by many when the discussion of the legalization of marijuana is being

brought up. Although there may be some benefits that can come from the legalization of

marijuana including it being used for medical purposes, it is still creating a huge issue as well as

bringing upon a negative impact on the younger generation. Marijuana should not be legalized

for recreational use because of the effects it has on the younger generation.

Many factors play a role when it comes to the debate over whether marijuana should be

legalized or not. One of these factors is the effects that it is bringing upon youths. There are

many effects that youths are being faced with by marijuana. For example, from an article by

Stott, she explains how parents who use drugs make negative developmental outcomes for their

children (2016). She then states that, “Decades of research focused on the threat, risk, or harm

that both licit and illicit drug use by parents can pose to their children.” This is a factor that

should play a role in Americans debating the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. The

more parents who use marijuana around their children are just creating a negative impact on

them. If marijuana is legalized, that is just more parents that will be using marijuana, which can

result in more parents using the drug around their children. Which in some cases, when children

are seeing their parents use marijuana, makes them think that it’s okay and want to use or try the

drug since their parents are using it. Also, if marijuana becomes legalized, it may make youths

think that it is a harmless drug since it could be legal to adults. Then, on top of seeing their

parents use the drug, it could make them more convinced that marijuana is okay, when in fact

it’s not okay for youths. Youths fail to understand that marijuana may be okay for adults to use,

but not safe for them to use considering how many negative effects it can cause. On the other

hand, from an article by Mikos, he talks about how there is a limit on the amount of marijuana

that states allow qualified individuals to possess at any given time. He is stating that even if

marijuana became legalized, states would only allow individuals to possess a certain amount, so

people can’t just have as much marijuana as they please for it to be legal. Although this is true,

this still won’t stop youths from getting their hands on the drug. It may help and make it harder

to do so, but if they are finding a way to get their hands on it right now, it won’t change. No

matter the amount one is supposed to possess, youths are still able to find a way to access the

drug. If anything, the more states that legalize marijuana, will just end up making it easier for the

youth generation to start using the drug or finding a way to get it, because of more adults will be

carrying the drug. However, another article by Hollist states that youths from two parent

households are less likely to use marijuana than youths from households where one or both

parents are absent (2006). In today’s society, divorce between parents is becoming more of a

common problem than it used to be. Kids aren’t responsible for their parents divorcing, and it

shouldn’t have as much of an impact on a kid that it does. For youths to be more likely to use

marijuana when their parents are separated or absent is an issue that shouldn’t be getting ignored.

Especially since divorce between parents are becoming more of a common issue. This is a red

flag that parents need to be aware of with their children. If marijuana becomes legalized, it

would just create an increase of youths abusing the drug and finding a way to get their hands on

it. Going along with this, an article by Millhorn states that most Americans do believe that there

has been progress in dealing with the problems of illegal drugs in the country, but Americans

have also reported having more difficulties within their family related to the use of marijuana

(2009). So, by marijuana getting legalized for recreational use, may just increase the chances of

families having issues, which will then reflect on youths being more likely to use marijuana just

like Hollist had stated previously. Not only may the use of marijuana create more difficulties

within families, but it may also have a negative impact on the child if there is one in the family.

Since kids with separated or absent parents are more likely to use marijuana, this is an issue that

should not be ignored. These are just a few examples of the effects that legalizing marijuana can

bring upon families which may negatively reflect on their children in the youth generation.

However, marijuana also causes many effects on youths today. For example, attending

college raises the rate of marijuana use among young adults (Jones, 2018). With that being said,

undergraduate students ages 18-24 report having the highest rates of use in the U.S. This is a big

issue because marijuana use on college campuses is associated with high rates of dependence and

abuse (Elliott, 2013). Legalizing marijuana for recreational use will just make it that much easier

for the youth generation, including college students, to get their hands on the drug. The fact that

marijuana use on college campuses is related to abuse of the substance raises a big red flag

because college student are getting addicted to the drug which may negatively impact them. This

is another issue that should not be ignored. On another note, from an Australian perspective an

article by Homel, talks about the legalization of marijuana in the U.S., it states that there are two

main economic arguments about the benefits and costs of legalizing marijuana (2017). The first

argument states “that it undercuts the price of the illicit market, thereby reducing the

involvement of criminal elements in the production, sale and distribution of marijuana.” The

second argument states,” that it can generate significant tax revenues for any state that legalizes

marijuana, particularly for recreational use.” An article by Hajizadeh also states that the

legalization of marijuana could increase tax revenue and also “save citizens’ tax dollars currently

being spent on prohibition enforcement (2016).” These are just some of the pros to when it

comes to legalizing marijuana, specifically for recreational use. Although there are some good

factors that could come out of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, there are still many

effects that it could bring, for example, making it easier for youths to get their hands on it.

Legalizing marijuana may make it more accessible for younger adults to get. Going along with

this, an article by Davenport states that there is concern that making marijuana legal could

increase it’s use by youth and young adults (2015). So even though legalizing marijuana may

benefit Americans by saving them tax dollars and undercutting the price of the illicit market, this

doesn’t stop the youth generation from becoming more likely to become addicted and to use

marijuana. If marijuana becomes legalized, it may give off the idea to youths that it is a harmless

drug and therefore they feel more comfortable trying the drug. Going along with that, an article

by Volkow says that, “The regular use of marijuana during adolescence is of particular concern,

since use by this age group is associated with an increased likelihood of deleterious

consequences (2014).” As you can see, the youth population has a big impact on the negative

ways that some Americans may view marijuana. Marijuana becoming legalized may have a huge

impact on the youth generation that man people overlook. These are just some of the negative

impacts that the legalization of marijuana could have on society, in particular in young adults.

There are many more effects that marijuana is bringing upon youths today. Another

article by Ryan that states that, “The adolescent brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex areas that

control judgement and decision making, is not fully developed until the early 20s…” (2017).

This raises questions on how marijuana or any other substance may affect the development of the

brain. This is another affect towards youths that may be caused from marijuana. By youths using

marijuana may affect them negatively in the future by affecting the way that their brain thinks.

This is an issue that not only adults may over see, but possibly the youths intaking marijuana.

This is a red flag when it comes to legalizing marijuana that people, both adults and youths need

to be aware about. Also, an article by Schinke, states that peoples age is related to their

marijuana use (2017). So, an increase in age is associated with an increase in the odds of

marijuana use by 1.33. If the older people get, the more the chances are for them to be using

marijuana increases, is another red flag. This comes to show that even the youth generation has

the chances of using marijuana each year as they grow up. And by legalizing marijuana, will just

up the chances even more for them to get their hands on marijuana. On the other hand, marijuana

has been proved to be an effective treatment for nerve pain, chronic pain, and muscle spasms

from multiple sclerosis or paraplegia (Thompson, 2016). This is another positive effect that can

be brought from legalizing marijuana, but still does not stop the youth generation from abusing

the drug and becoming addicted to it. Although marijuana can be an effective drug for adults

with body pains and diseases, it is still not proven to be a safe drug for youths. And may cause

many effects to youths who abuse the drug and start at an early age. Going along with this, an

article from Friese states that, “the relation between medical marijuana cards and youth use may

be related to an overall normative environment that is more tolerant of marijuana use” (2013).

So, this article is stating that even medical marijuana cards can show the youth generation that

marijuana is more of a normal part of the environment. Medical marijuana shows youths that

marijuana is more of a positive substance and allows the use of marijuana more to them.

Thompson also stated that there has not been enough studies to show that marijuana is a safe and

effective drug. So not only is the youth population getting the wrong idea about medical

marijuana, but it’s also said that it may not be a safe and effective drug. The youth generation is

getting the idea that marijuana is safe and effective because in some states, medical marijuana is

legal, and they make medical marijuana cards for particular people who need them. But what the

youth doesn’t see, is that marijuana hasn’t even been proven to be safe and effective and can

cause many effects on them that are over seen. States that legalize marijuana are just convincing

youths that the drug is safe when it is not and hasn’t been proved to be so. These are more

examples of why marijuana should not be legalized, for the sake of the youth generation.

However, another example of the impact marijuana is having on youths comes from an

article by Dembo that states that, “…there was an age effect in marijuana use underreporting

such that younger truant youths were more likely to underreport marijuana use, compared to

older truant youths” (2015). Dembo is saying that youths who use marijuana are more likely to

underreport how much they’re using marijuana than older youths are. This raises another red flag

because if the younger youth population is lying about how much marijuana they’re using, this

can be dangerous and concerning for their future. Also, an article by Kuehn states that the

continuous use of marijuana by adolescents is associated with a decline in their cognitive

function by midlife (2012). This clearly states that marijuana is not healthy for youths. The idea

that is getting portrayed to the younger generation is that marijuana is a harmless drug of which

it is not. Kuehn also mentions how the heavy use of marijuana is linked to neuropsychological

impairment, particularly when use begins early in life (2012). So again, when marijuana is being

used in early life, it has a great effect on the future that youths forget to see. Marijuana should

not be getting portrayed to youths by making it seem like it is a safe drug, and when marijuana is

getting legalized it is showing the younger generation that it is okay. Marijuana can be okay and

help adults, but marijuana is not safe and healthy for young adults who’s brains are not fully

developed. Even though marijuana is beneficial to many, it is not beneficial to youths and this is

an issue that needs to be thought about by Americans debating whether or not marijuana should

be legalized for recreational purposes. A lead author named Madeline Meier, PhD, a postdoctoral

associate at Duke University stated that “Marijuana is not harmless, particularly for

adolescents,”. So, the idea that Americans are having that marijuana is a harmless drug needs to

re thought about. It may be harmless to adults, but it is doing nothing positive for youths. On

another note, an article by Suryadevara, states that marijuana can “decreases pain and spasticity

in people with MS, decreases tremor, rigidity, and pain in people with PD, and improves the

quality of life of ALS patients by improving appetite, and decreasing pain and spasticity” (2017).

Marijuana may serve as a medicine with people who actually need it to help their pain or disease,

but when adolescents are using the drug just for the thrill of it is what’s dangerous. Even though

marijuana can help people who need it, it still doesn’t help the fact of younger kids figuring out a

way to get their hands on the drug just to use it. And by legalizing marijuana more than just for

medical purposes makes it that much easier for younger adults to get their hands on it easier to

use it. Kuehn also stated that “Persistent marijuana users also lost several IQ points on average

between age 13 years and age 38 years” (2012). Kuehn talks about how young adults who start

using marijuana in early years, experience a loss of cognitive function in their everyday life.

Because of this, their IQ levels go down. Like it was previously mentioned, since young adults’

brains aren’t fully developed, marijuana can have a huge negative impact on them. Including a

loss of IQ and everyday cognitive thinking. Marijuana can affect the way the brain thinks when it

is used improperly like a youth whose brain isn’t fully developed. So, although marijuana can

serve as a positive substance to older adults who need it to help them with a pain or disease, it

still doesn’t bring anything positive for the younger generation.

Coming to conclusion, there are many factors that play a role in the debate Americans are

having about the laws of marijuana. The pros and cons of this debate in particularly about the

youth generation is especially important when determining if marijuana should be legalized for

recreational purposes or not. Each side has many points with different perspectives and

viewpoints. There is also many different effects and outcomes that marijuana can bring upon

youths and adults. While it may serve as a positive substance to some adults who need it as a

medicine for their pain or disease, it does not bring anything positive to the younger generation

who abuse the drug. Sates that have legalized the use of marijuana are just giving out the wrong

idea to youths. Legalizing marijuana is showing youths that it is a safe drug, when it has not been

proven to be so, especially to youths. The legalization of marijuana is increasing the use of

youths using and abusing the drug daily. Moving forward, not everyone can agree on one side of

this debate, but by Americans being aware of the effect’s marijuana is currently bringing to the

youth population, may open their eyes in determining whether or not marijuana should be

legalized for recreational purposes here in the United States.



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