Adolescence is typically one of the more trying stages in a person’s life. It is full of physical and psychological changes and can be crucial to the groundwork and then launch into young adulthood. It is not uncommon for developing teens to have low self-esteem. The need to fit in socially has often lead to the abuse of illicit drugs.
The most popular illicit drug in the United States is marijuana (DSHS, 2012). It comes from the plant, Cannabis sativa, which originally came from Asia. The primary active chemical that causes the “high” feeling when marijuana is smoked is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short. High concentration of THC in a plant results in a high potency as well (Hart & Ksir, 2013). Marijuana has numerous street names. Pot, weed, grass, reefer, boom, and Mary Jane just to name a few. No matter what the preferred name is, marijuana is usually rolled into a cigarette, or blunt, and smoked. Less common methods of using the substance include smoking it from a pipe, brewing it as a tea, or putting it into food (NIDA, 2013).
Marijuana has been used since 2737 B.C. for medical conditions such as gout, rheumatism, malaria, constipation, and even absent-mindedness. In more recent years, THC has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea in cancer patients and in stimulating appetite in AIDS patients (Hart & Ksir, 2013). Despite these findings, marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I drug (no medical use) and has not been approved by the FDA (NIDA, 2013). Many states have separate laws that allow the use of marijuana for adults if they have a prescription from their physician (AACAP, 2013).
The psychoactive effects of smoking marijuana vary but users commonly report feelings of euphoria and relaxation. Negative effects are controversial, but there is significant proof that the use of marijuana interferes with brain functioning, specifically in the areas of learning and memory (Schweinsburg, Schweinsburg, Nagel, Eyler, & Tapert, 2011).
Marijuana use among teens is at an all-time high. A biennial survey conducted by the Texas Department of State Health Services and Texas A&M University shows that the numbers haven’t been this elevated since the 1970’s. 26.2% percent of junior high and high school students have used marijuana in their lifetime (DSHS, 2012). A survey called Monitoring the Future, or MTF, reports that 22.9 percent of 12th graders, 17 percent of 10th graders, and 6.5 percent of 8th graders used marijuana in the month before the survey was administered. MTF also reports that 6.5 percent of high school seniors smoke marijuana daily (NIH, 2012). Use of marijuana has increased over 5% just in the last 5 years! One reason for the increase in use could be that there is a decrease in the number of teens that think pot is harmful. Only 41.7 percent of 8th graders believe that occasional marijuana use is damaging (NIH, 2012). With this information, it is easy to see...