Effects of Marijuana on Teenagers

James A. Turner

There are many effects of marijuana use on teenagers. First of all, marijuana can cause high school drop-outs. Secondly, marijuana is a dangerous drug; using it can seriously ruin a teenager's life. Also, the use of marijuana can disrupt coordination and concentration. A lack of these can also destroy a teenager's life. Further more, marijuana is illegal and teenagers who use it can be caught. Also, since marijuana is illegal having it on a teenager's record can be harmful to job or college chances. In addition, marijuana use can be affected by other drugs. Finally, the use of other drugs can precede the use of marijuana. The effects of marijuana use on teenagers vary, but they are all equally negative.

Marijuana is a dangerous drug, using it can seriously ruin a teenager's life. Marijuana use can hurt a teenager's education, family ties, and his social life. (Ten things . . . , p1) If a teenager uses marijuana, or other drugs, it can disrupt his whole life. Also, marijuana can mess a teenager up. Performance in school sports and other activities will suffer if one is high. (Facts for teens . . . , p3) The use of marijuana can destroy hopes in athletics for teenagers, or it can ruin their chances in school. Finally, "one of the biggest hazards of marijuana for teens is this: if you are high on marijuana, you are more likely to make stupid mistakes that could embarrass or even hurt you. If you use it a lot you could start to lose energy and lose interest in how you look or how you are getting along in school or work." (Facts for teens . . . , p4) Marijuana use can confuse teenagers or even destroy how they think, and if one is not thinking clearly they can make bad decisions. It is not safe to use marijuana; using it can change, for the worse, a teenager's life.

The use of marijuana can disrupt coordination and concentration. This can destroy a teenager's life. "Keep on the right track. Marijuana reduces your ability to do things that require coordination and concentration. Like sports, dancing, acting, and studying." (Ten things . . . , p1) This means that if a teenager uses marijuana it disrupts his brain. This disrupts concentration and coordination. Further more, the short term effects of marijuana include: problems with memory and learning; distorted perception; trouble with thinking and problem-solving; loss of coordination; and an increased heart rate, anxiety, panic attacks and more. (Facts for teens . . . , p3) If teenagers use marijuana it can really mess up their mind. "THC disrupts the nerve cells and in the part of the brain where memories are formed. This makes it hard for the user to recall recent events, and so it is hard to learn while high. A working short term memory is required for learning and performing tasks that call for more than one or two steps." (Facts for teens . . . , p6) All this is pretty self explanatory; it is impossible to learn when high. If a teenager uses drugs, he will not be able to learn in school.

Marijuana is illegal; having it on a teenager's record can be harmful to job or college chances. "The criminalization statutes define the consumption of marijuana a crime." (Alcohol, Marijuana . . . , p7) All this sentence says is that it is illegal to use marijuana. Also, "In some states marijuana is only a misdemeanor offense, rather than a felony." (Alcohol, Marijuana . . . , p7) Although it is only a misdemeanor it is still illegal and it can ruin the life of a teenager. Finally, "Using, holding, buying, or selling marijuana can get you suspended or expelled from school. This will hurt your chances of getting a job in the future." (Ten things . . . , p1) It is against the rules to do anything that has to do with marijuana in school, or anywhere. A teenager who gets caught will definitely pay the consequences. With marijuana being illegal, if a teenager decides to use it he will have to take full responsibility.

Marijuana can disrupt the senses and it is easy to see if a person is under the influence of it. If someone is high on marijuana, they may seem dizzy and have trouble walking; seem silly and giggly for no reason; and have a hard time remembering things that just happened. When early effects fade, over a few hours the user can become very sleepy. (Facts for teens . . . , p5) With these easy to spot characteristics it is easy to see if a teenager is under the influences of marijuana. Furthermore, the traces of THC in marijuana can be detected in standard urine testing methods several days after smoking. In a heavy user, however, traces can be detected weeks after smoking. (Facts for teens . . . , p2) With this ease of testing for the chemicals in marijuana it is easy to prove, without a doubt, that anyone has been using marijuana. Since it is easy to tell and to test whether someone has been using marijuana, officials can quickly tell if a teenager has been using marijuana.

When the overall use of alcohol decreases, the overall use of marijuana increases. "Alcohol and marijuana are compliments." (Alcohol, Marijuana . . . , p18) This means that the alcohol use influences marijuana use and marijuana use influences alcohol use. Also, marijuana made an appearance because of the prohibition of alcohol. (Alcohol, Marijuana . . . , p3) This states that when alcohol was denied people started using marijuana. Furthermore, while the drinking of alcohol decreases the use of marijuana increases. (Alcohol, Marijuana . . . , p30) This is further evidence that alcohol use is reliant on marijuana use and vice versa. Finally, the prevalence of marijuana use tends to increase when the minimum drinking age is raised to twenty-one. (Alcohol, Marijuana . . . , p30) This means that when the legal age of drinking was raised to twenty-one the use of marijuana substantially increases. The use of marijuana is dependent on the use of alcohol, as the use of alcohol is dependent on the use of marijuana.

The use of other, legal, drugs such as alcohol and tobacco precedes the use of marijuana. The impact of drinking age laws on the prevalence of alcohol and marijuana consumption has changed. (Alcohol, Marijuana . . . , p22) This means that the weight that the age limit on drinking has on marijuana and alcohol consumption is different now than it was years ago. Also, with an increase in drinking age youths interchange marijuana and alcohol. (Alcohol, Marijuana . . . , p22) This means that when the drinking age goes up marijuana is used along with alcohol. This can be done for many reasons; one it is easier to get the marijuana; or two a teenager feels safer buying marijuana. Finally, youth who drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes sometimes form a want for marijuana. (Substitute Alcohol and Marijuana . . . , p4) This states that teenagers who drink and smoke cigarettes go to marijuana use less reluctantly. When teenagers smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol they have a larger chance of starting marijuana.

In conclusion, the effects of marijuana use on teenagers vary, but they are all equally negative. Marijuana use can cause high school drop-outs. Also, it is illegal and teenagers can be caught. Finally, marijuana use can be affected by the use of other drugs. These are the main points of my research paper on the effects of marijuana use on teenagers.

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Updated 06/18/00