One sophomore calls it “Marijuana,” another, “Mary Jane.” A junior refers to it as “The devil’s lettuce.” I hear a Marlborough girl as young as the eighth grade refer to it as “Grass.” Her friend corrects her – “everyone calls it weed.” Whatever you call it, marijuana is everywhere.
It catches my eye, casually lying on the table in front of me at a party in the Hollywood Hills. I think, “how can a little green leaf, the size of my forefinger, smuggled across our borders, produce serious consequences and controversy?” I smell it’s sweet, earthy scent. It is the aroma of generations past, present and future.
In both its social and chemical roles, marijuana, once the flag of youth rebellion for the Beats of the ’50s and flower children of the ’60s, has metamorphosed into a much more extreme practice.
The social role has become far less about bringing Beats or hippies together to rise above overbearing authority and, instead, more about isolation and just chasing that high. “Give it up Caitlin, there’s no use in educating people who don’t want to be educated. Kids smoke weed. End of story,” one of my best friends said to me.
But I can’t ‘give it up.’ Beyond its cultural changes, the chemical changes of the drug through the years are staggering. One freshman naively informed me that “compared to other psychotropic drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, marijuana is considered to be relatively harmless.” Right here in this statement lies the problem – Marijuana is not “relatively harmless.”
Marijuana is now a distant cousin from its tamer predecessor decades ago. It’s now 15 times stronger due to it’s increased THC content. The average joint in the ’60s and ’70s contained around 10 mgs of THC. Today, the average joint contains 150 mgs of THC (Office of National Drug Control Policy). If the joint is enhanced with “hash oil” to create a deeper more psychedelic effect, the THC content can contain up to 300 mgs. Therefore, a single joint today is 30 times more powerful than the joint that may have been smoked a few decades ago, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).
As Marlborough girls, we are taught to look to the facts for our answers and to shape our own opinions. Well, here are the facts: According to the AMA, “Young people who smoke marijuana are two to five times more likely to move on to harder drugs.” One Australian study found that one in three teens who smokes marijuana becomes psychologically addicted by the time they hit their early twenties. Marijuana users are eight times more likely to use cocaine and 15 times more likely to use heroin.
When I tell my fellow Marlboroughians these facts after interviewing them, they are not only in denial but are shocked. A Marlborough senior testifies, “there’s no way that’s true, I mean, I’m not running off campus to go shoot up some heroin.” A sassy sophomore just flat out doesn’t believe me and tells me to go “check my facts.”
Marlborough teaches us to be independent thinkers by looking at the merit of the facts. I’m not here to sway public opinion, just relay those facts. There is so much misinformation about marijuana out there, while students seem to brush off the real scientific research like the ash at the end of a joint.