Rocky mountain high turns to intellectual low

Colorado and Washington have become the first states to encourage the use of pot for fun.

On Election Day in November 2012, voters in those two states voted to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. There are probably several reasons for that, but it was a bad decision for both of those states. It only encourages people to use an extremely damaging drug that can and has ruined many people’s lives.

Marijuana has been shown to have many negative side effects, which in my opinion, outweigh the advantages of legalizing it for any reason. It has been shown to lower your IQ, cause traffic accidents, and has even been linked to cancer. Not only is it damaging to your body and health, it leads to higher dropout rates, and hurts your social life.

“I’ve watched students who partook in drug use and have seen their relationships and grades sink,” social science teacher Summer Younie said.

I think that a big part of the reason that so many students and teenagers do marijuana is that they look at it as a soft drug. They don’t see its danger, and look at it as a cool thing to do. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, teens who smoke marijuana heavily can lose as many as eight IQ points, and also have a 17% dependency rate.  The NIDA also reports that driving high more than doubles your risk of a fatal accident.

Dr. Stephen Grillot, an emergency room doctor in Garden City told me in an interview, “The younger you use it, the longer term the impairment there is.”

Even though it’s still not legal for anyone under 21 to smoke marijuana, it will inevitably be easier for teenagers to get their hands on it. Grillot added that education is key to prevent teens, and  anyone else, from abusing the drug. He pointed out that many people don’t understand the dangers. A Huffington Post survey verified that claim, showing that only 39.5% of high school seniors thought regular marijuana use was dangerous.

While many claim marijuana isn’t addictive, there is some evidence it is. Marijuana is the second most abused substance in the United States. A 2008 study stated that 4.2 million people are dependent on marijuana. That is more than any other drug in the United States. If marijuana isn’t addictive, people sure do have a hard time quitting it. A study of detoxing patients found that many reported insomnia, digestive problems , nausea, loss of appetite, and a number of other physical and mental symptoms. Many of those are also reported by people quitting smoking.

Many proponents of the legalization of marijuana cite the financial advantages. According to CNBC, taxes collected on alcohol totaled $14.5 billion dollars. However, alcohol related costs totaled $185 billion dollars. That means alcohol cost society 12 times more than what it made us. Similarly, tobacco cost us eight times what it made us. It is expected that marijuana will have the same impact.

I think that voters in Colorado and Washington made a huge mistake when they voted to legalize recreational marijuana. It is a very dangerous drug that has many negative side effects and ruins lives. It’s extremely addictive for young people, and slows down mental development significantly. I don’t see their pot experiment ending well.

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