As you may know, today is 4/20 (April 20th), a day often recognized as a holiday centered around smoking marijuana. At GUIDE, we believe that recreational marijuana use is harmful to both individuals and the community. Still, there is a lot of hype about the drug and controversy over its use in the media. Here are four reasons and a 20 second video to kill the hype.
- Marijuana is bad for your health.
Though marijuana is often touted as a harmless or even safe drug, scientific studies repeatedly debunk this myth. When it comes to marijuana’s impact on your body and well-being, it can be scary to ignore these facts:
- Marijuana use directly affects parts of your brain responsible for attention, reaction time, learning and memory. These effects can last up to 28 days after using the drug (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).
- One joint causes the same amount of lung damage as 2.5 cigarettes (Aldington et al., 2007).
- Marijuana increases your heart rate, posing serious risks to those with heart disease or high blood pressure (Brown University).
- One in six teens who smoke marijuana become addicted to it (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
- Smoke from marijuana has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke (American Lung Association).
- Marijuana puts your life and others’ lives at risk.
As if the health risks aren’t risky enough, other dangers of marijuana use are even worse. Using marijuana affects judgment, perception and decision-making. One study found that marijuana use doubles the risk of car accidents. Because marijuana impacts several parts of the brain, it is increasingly difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road when you’re high. In addition to dangerous driving, in-the-moment mistakes due to impairment can be made in a number of other situations, like slowed reaction time in the event of an emergency and even engaging in risky sexual behavior. It can also have long-term effects on school and sport performance, as well as on important relationships. It may all come down to one question: just how much are you willing to risk for marijuana?
- Not everyone is doing it.
An argument heard way too often to justify negative behavior is “But everyone else is doing it!” This mindset, when it comes to drug use, is a result of misperceptions of social norms. If we perceive that the majority of those in our school or community think that it is a normal, acceptable behavior to use marijuana and other drugs, we are more likely to also make this decision. Unfortunately, many people actually believe this to be true when it is, indeed, not the norm. According to the 2014 Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services Youth Health Survey, only 3.7% of middle school students and 14.5% of high school students in Gwinnett County, GA reported using marijuana in the last 30 days. In addition, more than three-quarters of middle school students and over half of high school students believe marijuana is harmful. These numbers show that the majority of youth in our community are making the right decision. When you say no to marijuana, you’re not alone.
- There are better ways to get high.
Seriously. At GUIDE, we are all about natural highs. These are things we choose to do that inspire happiness and give us a reason to say no to drugs. Listening to music, reading, volunteering, playing sports, cooking and spending time with friends and family are only a few examples of natural highs. The list goes on and on. If you are interested in learning more about natural highs and others who choose to pursue passions instead of harmful drugs like marijuana, check out Natural High. If your natural high is community involvement and you’re looking for new experiences, take a look at Do Something and VolunteerMatch. Your high awaits, and it’s not marijuana.
Do you want to help us spread the word? Take a look at this video featuring the facts about marijuana and help us share it by clicking on the share icon in the top right corner.
We’ve got BIG things going on at GUIDE with marijuana prevention. Our Youth Advisory Board recently launched a marijuana awareness campaign, which you can read more about here. If you want to keep up with GUIDE’s substance abuse prevention efforts and are not already signed up for our newsletters, you can do so here to stay connected.