Pulling the Weeds Out of Our Youth

With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado discussions have come up concerning the economy, the federal government and even air quality, however many people tend to forget those who don’t or can’t participate. Although I’m sure some have argued on behalf of the children in Colorado, I’m not convinced that it has been a main concern.

            A survey in 2003 reported that 47.5% of 12th Graders said they used alcohol within the past 30 days and 24.4% stated that they had smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days (Joffe). The legal consumption and purchase age for alcohol is 21, for tobacco products you have to be 18. The legal age for alcohol is the same for purchasing marijuana in Colorado which raises the question, how are we keeping this drug away from adolescents?

            In reality are we keeping alcohol, tobacco and marijuana away from children? No. Beer and other alcoholic beverages have “fun” commercials, especially for adolescents in their teens. With good music and images of stunning, successful, men and women, teens actually idolize the message behind each commercial. In recent years however tobacco advertisements have gone down and now their place is filled with commercials against the usage of their products. What we must consider however is advertisement with marijuana. Already there are references to it in TV shows and music, but what happens when there are billboards or “fun” commercials and children begin to idolize marijuana as well?

            Although studies have shown that marijuana is not as dangerous or as harmful as alcohol and tobacco the drug is still harmful. Driving under the influence of marijuana is said to be just as bad as driving under the influences of alcohol. And while marijuana does not contain all the chemicals and by products that cigarettes do it still contains chemicals that can be damaging to the respiratory system and brain over time. Laws and anti-drug advertisements do deter some children from using substances but for the children that continue to abuse alcohol, tobacco and marijuana also continue to affect their still developing bodies.

            We often forget about our countries youth when such a hot topic arises, you have state law directly conflicting law which creates several issues and arguments about whether the federal government has any real power or not. We can’t forget though that a large portion of our population is considered to be adolescents. For instance if 1% of 15-19 year olds decided to start using marijuana right now then there would be approximately 190,000 new users (Joffe).

            All of this raises several questions regarding the legalization in Colorado. Will there be advertisements for marijuana aimed towards adolescents? Can we control use amongst minors? Will this affect any groups more than others based off class or ethnicity? And what health issues could possibly come from recreationally legalizing marijuana, especially regarding our youth?

 

Alyssa Nance

 

Sources:

Joffe, Alain, W. Samuel Yancy. “Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth.” Pediatrics 113.6

                (2004): n. pag. Web. 6 Apr. 2014

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