The Ugly Side of Nature This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

July 28, 2011
I was 13 when my brother was arrested for possession of marijuana. I can still remember the day perfectly. My parents and I had just sat down for dinner when my dad received the phone call that I found so shocking then and that still resonates deeply with me. I remember bursting into tears and asking why he would do such a thing. I felt like my life had completely changed. Fast-forward three years. Life has completely changed, but now the event that seemed so catastrophic seems almost normal. These days, marijuana is everywhere.

Visiting the website of my favorite publishing house, Chronicle Books, I see The Official High Times Pot Smoker's Handbook on the best-seller list. The cover shows lush green marijuana leaves and mentions the lovely feature “420 Things To Do When You're Stoned.” How is a book about drug use considered one of the most popular reads in America? How many people out there are getting high at this very moment? Sometimes these questions leave me wondering whether I am the outsider in a society of potheads. Am I missing something?

It seems to me that our country has grown weed-centric. Even The Washington Post is contributing with its article on Wiz Khalifa. As I read it, I felt so frustrated that the Post was praising a performer whose work revolves around marijuana: Khalifa's album is called “Rolling Papers.” His website features his name written in smoke and there are pictures of him smoking pot. Am I crazy wondering why the Post would write an article on someone promoting drug use when it usually focuses on those who enrich our culture? And why isn't this guy in jail?

Those who feel that the influence of weed-centric pop culture on today's teenagers is harmless need to think again. I can find at least one person in every one of my classes who has smoked weed. Students blog about how much they love marijuana and post pictures glorifying it. Looking at one student's blog, she claims that she only “smoke[s] marijuana because the world is so harsh.” If she really thinks that, why doesn't she do something about it? The reason is, she, like so many who smoke marijuana, is not smoking because the world is harsh. She is smoking marijuana because it is easier than embracing life.

What so many people in today's society fail to ­realize is that smoking marijuana only makes life more difficult due to the resulting lack of productivity and health problems. Sure, the health consequences are not as dire as drugs like heroin and cocaine, but calling smoking safe is ridiculous. In the end, most drug users are motivated by the same desire: to get high. And it is sad that so many people would rather be high than enjoy the beauty that life naturally has to offer.

Most pot smokers refuse to acknowledge the consequences of smoking. Since it's impossible to overdose on it, people believe it is safe. However, according to studies conducted by Harvard College, “smoking marijuana regularly (a joint a day) can damage the cells in the bronchial passages which protect the body against inhaled microorganisms and decrease the ability of the immune cells in the lungs to fight off fungi, bacteria, and tumor cells.” This can lead to pulmonary infections and can “prove fatal to AIDS patients.” In addition, the study notes, “it has been suggested that marijuana is at the root of many mental disorders,” and habitual use can cause respiratory cancer.

However, many still refuse to acknowledge the dangers simply because it has not been proven to be addictive. If it's not addictive, then why was my brother in rehab for a year?

The answer is simple: many people start smoking marijuana for fun, but it eventually becomes a coping mechanism. My brother suffers from serious depression, and marijuana was supposed to take his mind off that. That plan backfired.

If you think smoking marijuana is no big deal, remember that not everyone is lucky enough to escape unscathed. Not everyone is lucky enough to escape at all.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

ambnyc This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 19, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Marijuana is not physically addictive; it can be "mentally addictive." You can't blame the drug for whatever problems your brother had to use it as for a coping mechanism. The difference between physically addictive and mentally addictive is that in the latter, the "addict" makes a conscious choice to smoke marijuana, and is not a slave to the drug.

Can you please cite the study? This seems to be another preachy article about "why marijuana is bad", inflating the sparse derogato... (more »)

ambnyc This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 19, 2011 at 10:47 pm

And furthermore, the study you cite suggests. It is not conclusive. You present this as concretely factual evidence, meant to embellish your point, when all it does it create some shaky ground for you to stand on.

That being said, this article is well-written, and touches upon some good points.

Thoreau420 replied...
Aug. 23, 2011 at 10:51 am
Also, the reason your brother is in rehab, and why more teens are in rehab for marijuana than any drug is because when you are accused of marijuana possesion, you are given two options, treatment or jail. Obviously people are going to choose rehab. He's not in rehab because he's addicted, he's in it because it's better than jail.
waxingpoetic This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm
To be honest, I don't think I want to get into my brother's entire situation here, but I can assure you that he went to rehab because he had a serious problem (he wasn't being threatened with jail time when he chose to go).
theweirdworder This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm
I can actually appreciate some of what you're saying. Weed absolutely CAN cause health problems including lung cancer and, like you said, schizophrenia and such. However, I still don't think Wiz Khalia should be 'arrested" nor should any pot user. If he smokes pot, great for him. He's his own person and he can deal with his problems. He's not hurting anyone else. I'm actually kind of glad for pot- glorifiers. They balance out the preachers in school who honestly make me want to smoke weed. Howe... (more »)
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