Marijuana Abuse

By: Lissa
“Marijuana is the second most popular drug after alcohol in the country today. So many people smoke marijuana that the numbers alone seem to legitimize and condone its presence in people’s lives. Yet, even in moderation marijuana is not ‘safe.’ Somehow this information had not filtered down to people who think they are smoking a fairly innocuous drug. Our society perpetuates the myths about pot being a fun, harmless, recreational drug. These myths feed into people’s denial of marijuana’s problems” (Baum 6). However, the abuse of marijuana is a problem. It is not only a personal problem, but also more importantly a social problem. Throughout history marijuana has been used to serve various purposes in many different cultures. The purposes have changed over time to fit in with the current lifestyles. The cultivation of the marijuana plant in the United States began as far back as the Jamestown settlers around the year 1611. At that time the main focus was on survival rather than for psychoactive purposes. Medicinal uses of marijuana eventually changed to enjoyment manipulation. Beginning in the 1960s marijuana use saw a reemergence with the rebellious youth, and the “hippie movement.” This evolved into increased use among the older population as well. This trend continues to this day. Marijuana use can be termed abuse. Today the debate over marijuana is a major controversy that affects our society as a whole. During the 60’s it was easy to depict marijuana as a beneficial and completely harmless substance because there was not enough scientific research done during this time (Grolier Wellness Encyclopedia). Today we know that the levels of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol, in marijuana are four to ten times more than they were in the 60s. We also know that THC had shown negative affects in the learning process. It’s destructive to the learning performance, memory, and attention span. It has insidious side effects including lung damage and cancer risks. It also impairs ability to work, drive, and make clear decisions, not to mention, the lack of motivation, depression, and paranoia. In addition, “daily marijuana use has been associated with a doubling of the risk for psychosis. The most common type was a brief acute organic reaction characterized by mental dulling, distortion of time, dreamlike euphoria progressing to fragmenting thoughts, and hallucinations. More potent marijuana can cause even more severe reactions” (Baum 16). This means marijuana has tremendous costs on those who use it as well as society. The effects of marijuana abuse on an individual can be substantial, but the costs to society are innumerable. The effects can be felt in the rising of health care to increased insurance premiums. As the number of marijuana users increase, the number seeking medical attention also increases. In addition, being treated for various illnesses caused by marijuana abuse, results in missed days at work. Productivity levels fall not only because of absenteeism, but also as a result of impaired abilities. Workers under the influence of marijuana suffer from cognitive disorders that hampers their productivity. Further, as a social problem, marijuana costs society billions of tax dollars every year in an effort to obliterate drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that drug abuse costs the United States as much as $246 billion each year (Torr 12). Functionalist theorists would see marijuana abuse as a social problem in that it causes a disturbance in the equilibrium of society. Functionalist theory states that the many institutions (government, education, religion, etc.) of society must be integrated in order to operate effectively and proficiently. In essence, if members of society were all under the influence of marijuana, the functions of the structures could not be carried out. If one of the structures is poorly integrated, it becomes dysfunctional to society. In terms of marijuana abuse, many institutions of society would be dysfunctional if its members were marijuana users. For instance, family would be dysfunctional if parents were not able to raise future productive members of society. This would be true if either the parents or child were marijuana abusers. Likewise, the same outcome could be seen in the other structures of society such as members of the


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