By Luke Sterner
Back in the 1980’s, while President Reagan was in office, his wife Nancy started her anti-drug campaign with the message of “Just Say No.”
Sadly, drugs are still wreaking havoc on American society today. Marijuana is one drug that has been the center of a lot of conversations lately.
Marijuana, or “pot,” is sold as a non-dangerous, non-addictive drug. However, it is a plague on American society.
Hopefully while reading this, some people will reach the same conclusion I have, and just say no.
Pot is a gateway drug. Research has shown that early exposure to THC, the mind-altering chemical in pot, changes the brain’s response to other drugs. For example, when young rodents are repeatedly exposed to THC, they later show an enhanced response to other addictive substances, and they’re more likely to show addiction-like behaviors.
A teenage male named Taylor Green started smoking weed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Within a year his mother found him on the bathroom floor, dead of a heroin overdose.
There are so many unfortunate stories like Taylor’s, too many to include here. I recently spoke to a drug rehab counselor, and asked, “How many of your clients started out on marijuana?”
His answer: “almost all of them.”
Marijuana usage can lead to marijuana use disorder.
Roughly 30 percent of those who use have some degree of this disorder. Marijuana use disorder is the dependence a person feels when quitting the drug.
The side effects include: irritability, sleep difficulties, cravings and various forms of physical discomfort. In 2015, about four million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for marijuana use disorder.
Pot’s effects on your brain and body can cause widespread damage. Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke is made up of a variety of toxic chemicals, including ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, which can irritate your bronchial passages and lungs.
Marijuana smoke contains carcinogens, which may increase the risk of lung cancer.
Studies involving animals showed that THC damages the immune system.
Other side effects include: impaired body movement, impaired memory, hallucinations, and/or psychosis.
I have read many medical and scientific studies on marijuana; a lot have reached the same conclusion: people who start smoking marijuana in their teens lose an average of 8 IQ points, and show declines in general knowledge and verbal ability in early adulthood. Memory impairment from marijuana use occurs because THC destroys the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory.
Rats exposed to THC soon after birth show notable problems with learning and memory later in life, from the damage done to the brain early on.
A study done by Prof. Matthew Springer of California University, San Francisco School of Medicine, shows exposure to marijuana smoke is three times more harmful than exposure to tobacco smoke.
This study was done by putting a lit cigarette and marijuana joint in a box with rats. When exposed to tobacco smoke, the rats’ arteries had difficulty functioning for about 30 minutes.
However, when exposed to marijuana smoke, the arteries took 90 minutes to return to normal function.
Marijuana ruins the user’s life; findings among users include lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health and more relationship problems.
Studies show people have less academic and career success.
Marijuana use is linked to a higher likelihood of dropping out of school, and more job absences, accidents and injuries.
Adolescents who use marijuana are less likely than their non-using peers to finish high school or college.
They also have a much higher chance of developing dependence, using other drugs, attempting suicide, requiring welfare, being unemployed and committing criminal behavior.
Last, I hear this argument in support of legalizing pot: “people are going to do it anyway, so why not legalize it?”
People still murder, rape and steal.
Does that mean we should legalize crimes, if people are going to do it anyway?
Just because we legalize something, doesn’t make it morally right.
Remember the words from our 40th President:
“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
The burdens of marijuana don’t just hurt the smoker. The effects on employers for lost productivity and potential injuries cost business’s money. Just like the story of Taylor Green, marijuana impacts families, and destroys lives.
Overall, marijuana use is destroying America.
In the words of Ronald Reagan: “Let us not forget who we are. Drug abuse is a repudiation of everything America is.”
The America I know and love, is far better than the shattered families and broken dreams that marijuana usage offers. We all need to heed the advice of Nancy Reagan and “Just Say No.”
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