Many teens feel pressured to try marijuana at some point during high school. It might seem like “everybody’s doing it,” and people might be telling you “it’s not a big deal, just try it.” But the reality is that marijuana is a very big deal.
Marijuana, often referred to as pot, weed, herb, reefer, or Mary Jane, is a mixture of dried and shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the cannabis sativa plant. The mixture can be green, brown, or gray, and has a very strong smell. Most people roll loose marijuana into a cigarette joint and smoke it, but some people also put it in food and tea.
When people are high on marijuana, they feel good. It gives them pleasant sensations, and enhances all their senses. Everything feels good, everything tastes better than normal, everything sounds cool. But it only feels good for a very short amount of time, and then the negative effects kick in.
Here are the short term effects… people high on marijuana have:
- Loss of coordination
- Slower reaction time
- Problems responding to sounds/signals
- A hard time remembering things
- Poor judgment
- Poor perception
- Higher heart rates (20-50 beats faster per minute)
- Inability to make decisions
And here are some long term effects:
- People who currently or have previously smoked marijuana have a heart time with complex tasks. Marijuana contains THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which finds brain cells with specific kinds of receptors called cannabinoid receptors, and binds to them. This affects the part of the brain that learns and remembers, and it continues to affect it permanently even when you’re not high anymore. So past users have a hard time pursuing academic, athletic, and other life goals that require you to be 100% focused and alert.
- People who have used report less life satisfaction, poorer education/job achievement, and more anxiety and depression.
- 1/6 people who start using at a young age become dependent on it and experience withdrawals when they try to quit.
- Smoking marijuana is no different than smoking cigarettes, maybe even worse. It affects the lungs and airways, causes breathing problems, and causes people to be more susceptible to chest colds, coughs, and bronchitis. Marijuana smoke is also inhaled more deeply than cigarettes so more smoke enters the lungs for a longer period of time. It also contains the same chemicals as cigarettes… about 400 chemicals.
- Marijuana can act as a gateway drug and lead people to trying other drugs.
- Marijuana is also illegal. Anyone who is caught with it can spend time in jail, and be fined a lot of money, even if you’re under 18.
If your friends are pressuring you to try marijuana, just think about it: is less than an hour of a “good feeling” worth damaging your brain and lungs, being unable to make decisions and function normally, and risking getting arrested?
If you or a friend are want to quit smoking marijuana, talk to a parent, guidance counselor, or other trusted adult to get help. Or, you can call the Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (which offers many other services besides helping people who are suicidal) at 1-800-273-TALK.
Follow up to the photo of Michael Phelps’ illegal drug use:
Michael Phelps just took a hit again, this time to his bank account. Kellogg decided to discontinue their sponsorship of the Olympic record-setting athlete because they do not believe his actions well-represent their company. The cereal company appeals to families and believes that Michael Phelps’ behavior is “not consistent with the image of Kellogg.”
The choice to not renew the contract led losses from more than just Phelps. Kellogg already had thousands of cereal boxes printed with the Michael Phelps image and filled with Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes respectively. They decided not to market the boxes and instead donated all 3,800 pounds of cereal to the San Francisco Food Bank. The donation was enthusiastically accepted in a tough economic crisis that has left thousands of families hungry. There was a waiting list at the food bank because so many people are in need and fewer have the resources to donate. Many of those hungry families will now at least have breakfast. Kellogg will receive a tax deduction of up to $15,000 for the donation after the retail value is calculated.
Phelps suffered another loss, less financial but perhaps more meaningful: delayed swimming eligibility. USA Swimming suspended Phelps for three months which means he will have to stay out of the Grand Prix meet taking place this month where he planned to make his first showing of the competitive season. He now has to wait until May to join the competition. He will also lose $1,750 for each month of his suspension that he would normally receive as a training stipend from the organization. Although he has retained plenty of income through is other endorsements, the loss is a bold statement. There is zero tolerance for illegal drug use in competitive swimming. That’s more than can be said for baseball! The suspension ends before the USA team is selected for the World Championships. The team will be chosen in July.
USA Swimming issued the following statement, “This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming-member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero,”
The statement is controversial because it is an admission of a suspension without an actual violation of rules. Some oppose the decision.
What do you think? Is it fair for Kellogg to cancel their contract because of Phelps’ personal choices? Do you think other sponsors will follow? Do you think they should? What do you think will happen with this situation if Michael Phelps swims better than usual this season? What if he doesn’t?