Don’t be fooled: marijuana isn’t safe

Matt Howard
Matt Howard

Matt Howard
Guest Writer

I teach a chemical awareness class once a month all year round at the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau.  Every month for the last ten years I’ve stood in front of approximately eight to ten youth and their parents to talk about alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.  In the last year I have received more pushback and questions surrounding marijuana than I ever have. People are beginning to believe that it’s “not that bad.”  The youth of this generation, and especially the high school juniors and seniors of the last couple years, seem to be getting pulled into a movement that is trying to paint marijuana in a better light than it deserves.

In the last year we’ve seen two states legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for those twenty-one and older. This has sent ripples through the marijuana using community and is validating a lot of young people’s incorrect notion that marijuana is safe for them to use. It’s not.

Average street marijuana is approximately four times more potent today than it was in the 1960s. It has more affects on the brain than it used to.

Marijuana is addictive. Currently it has the same addiction rate as alcohol. One out of every nine to ten people that use marijuana on a regular basis will become addicted to it.

Marijuana slows reaction time. It is dangerous to drive under the influence of marijuana. It slows thought processes which slows critical decision making.  You can get a DUI for just driving under the influence of marijuana.

Marijuana deposits THC in the fat linings of brain cells and slows the brain down. The longer a person smokes the more this build-up happens and the more brittle the brain becomes. Electricity stops flowing through certain parts of the brain and, much like a stroke victim, the brain needs to “re-wire” to find other routes for information to flow. Users become unmotivated. It takes more work to perform the same brain functions they used to, so the end effect is that they do less thinking that results in less productivity both mentally and physically.

Teenagers rarely believe any of these facts, because they likely can’t see any of them happening within the first six months to year of use. Depending on how much someone is using it can take that long for some of the physical damage to set in on the brain.  It creeps up slowly on the user and is hard to notice even when it’s happening to them. Just because it’s not a dramatic and immediate threat for overdose like some other drugs doesn’t mean it’s not a threat. Marijuana mainly robs people of their lives a little at a time, not all at once.

Our society needs to start telling the story of the longer term harmful effects of marijuana. Our youth need to get this message loud and clear.

Matt Howard is the community justice program manager at the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau. Contact him at 651-464-3685 or [email protected]

  • trent

    Thanks for the comical article. You did a great job of making up your own science. It seems like you have convinced yourself of this misinformation and now you want to prove your ignorance to the world. Keep up the good work. As long as the only people defending prohibition are people like you; then it will be an easy road to legalization.

  • Duncan20903

    Lying to the children just isn’t going to work. How long are you prohibitionist parasites going to insist on using a strategy built on a platform of nothing other than bald faced fiction, half truths, and hysterical rhetoric?

    When are you going to accept that continuing to push an agenda of fiction backfires and results in even worse consequences for the kiddies? Don’t you realize that when they figure out that you’ve been feeding them fiction that their juvenile brains jump to the conclusion that if you’re fictionalizing the “risk” of choosing to enjoy cannabis, that they’re being fibbed to about cocaine/heroin/meth etc?

    Shame on you Mr. Howard. You need to figure out that you can only fool some of the people all of the time. Trying to perpetuate the fiction of merrywanna addiction. Shame on you.

  • julioabruno2254 .

    lol this is the most idiotic article I have read in a long time about mj. All this reefer madness is old and dead, your fear tactics can’t and will not work Matt.

    Please just shut up

  • Bill Griggs

    This article and comments illustrate another good reason to legalize marijuana. Mr. Howard, you’re spreading prohibitionist propaganda, or at least that’s what an awful lot of people will call it. For many people out there, anything anyone says negative about marijuana is just propaganda. Do we see the same thing with cigarettes? Tobacco is legal yet smoking rates have been dropping for decades wile marijuana use rates go up. Are we sending the right message keeping it illegal? If we are not many are listening to it. They buy into the competing messages.

    Some out there are even telling people pot is good for them. I think it’s harmful but in many ways less harmful than alcohol, especially when it comes to harms to innocent people. You can’t handle thousands of criminal cases like I have as an attorney and not see the enormous harms of alcohol causes. Most violent crimes involve drunk people. Drugs like heroin and meth and Oxycontin are behind so many of the thefts and forgeries and so on that we see. Most marijuana crime arises directly out of the fact that it is illegal. Nevertheless, it stunts people’s growth mentally and emotionally if they smoke it all the time and there is a lot of evidence that it is harmful for developing brains. Kids should touch it and adults should realize that it is a harmful vice that people should leave alone or mess with only in moderation.

    We aren’t getting there though keeping it illegal. Most everyone who wants to smoke it smokes it. It’s easy to obtain everywhere and cheaper than beer on a per use basis for the most part. Americans consume tens of thousands of tons of it every year. According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over half of all American adults under the age of 65 have smoked it. Over half the kids growing up today will before they get into their late twenties, maybe long before they hit that age. Like alcohol, it’s too popular to ban, and it’s not such a threat that it makes any sense to keep trying when doing so causes us every problem our failed experiment with alcohol prohibition caused and more.

    We need to regulate the marijuana industry similar to the alcohol industry. All this rhetoric will then die down, both the dishonest scare tactics from the anti-legalization crowd and this “marijuana is a wonderplant that is good for all that ails you” nonsense coming from the other side. Advertising will be even more restricted than that for tobacco and the “Big Marijuana” will be as very leery of having their pants sued off as happened to “Big Tobacco.” It’s not going to increase use much because most everybody who wants to smoke pot is already smoking, certainly most all the irresponsible idiots we need to worry about most. The few who would but for the fact that it is illegal are people who have already shown that they have self control and are basically law abiding citizens.