Compiled by Naomi Lawrence ‘17

Today’s teens are grow- ing up in a potentially trans- formative time in regard to changing attitudes toward drugs, particularly marijua- na. This new landscape of drug legalization towards the use of drugs has sent mixed messages to teenag- ers across the nation who are warned or taught about the danger of marijuana being a “gateway drug,” while the country simulta- neously is moving towards an increased acceptance of the drug.

In referendums during the November 8 election, California, Nevada, and Massachusetts all voted to legalize recreational mar- ijuana use, which brings the total number of states which have legalized recre- ational use for individuals 21 years and older to seven. Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas voted to legalize the use of medicinal mari- juana, bringing the total of to 26. Additionally, Mon- tana voters on November 8 expanded its law for me- dicinal marijuana, removing the limits on the number of patients that providers can serve.

According to a survey of teen drug use released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2015, a majority of high school seniors do not believe that sporadic marijuana use is harmful. Only 31.9 percent of seniors thought that daily use put the user at great risk, compared with 78.6 percent of high school seniors in 1991. While 90.1 percent of seniors disapproved of regular marijuana use in 1992, that rate has slowly declined to 70.7 percent in 2015.

To further understand the underlying reasons behind the differing viewpoints on marijuana use among high school seniors, The Warrior surveyed two seniors (one male and one female) who smoke weed more than three times a week, one female senior who smokes once a month, one female senior who smokes once a week, and two female seniors who do not smoke at all. Each individual has anonymously provided explanations as to why he or she does or does not smoke weed, and his or her opinion on marijuana use.

Smokes Daily

MALE — How do I know that what I am smoking is safe? The answer is that I really don’t know. Teens like me enjoy the excitement of getting high, the euphoria it creates, and how it brings people together due to a common interest. I will admit that at first, I took advantage of using it. My grades dropped and I saw a noticeable change in my behavior. I currently smoke weed to relax and after sports practices to help with soreness. I am a supporter of weed; however, I do believe that use under the age of 18 can lead to effects on the brain and its development.

FEMALE — Smoking weed has become a big part of my life for probably two years now. I find it to be a fun way to hang out with my friends and relieve all of the stress that comes along with being a teenager. I’ve never believed that I was doing anything wrong. Being a girl and being a “smoker” is sometimes hard because you’re not living up to the good standard that people expect. But I think it’s okay to be different, and I think a lot of people realize that through smoking weed.

Smokes Once a Week

FEMALE — I only like to smoke weed on the weekends, after a long week of school. It calms me down and helps me let go of all of my stress temporarily. I wouldn’t want to do it any more than once a week just because of the cost. I don’t get a lot of money, so I wouldn’t want to blow it all on weed. Smoking allows me to not worry about anything for a period

Smokes Once a Month

FEMALE — I usually smoke if I’m really stressed or if I’m with my friends and they want to get high. Smoking actually helps me relieve stress for the time that I am doing it, but not in the long-term. I don’t really do it more than once a month, just because my parents would kill me if they knew, and I’m paranoid that they will catch me.

Doesn’t Smoke at All

FEMALE — Other people smoking doesn’t really have an effect on me, so I am indifferent towards weed use. Personal- ly, I choose not to smoke, even in situations where most if not all of my friends are because I don’t feel it to be necessary to enjoy it myself. I have nothing to gain by participating. It is also looked down upon within my culture, and I am a strong believer in upholding cultural values.

FEMALE — The majority of my friends do smoke, but I feel as if it’s unnecessary. Regardless of all the hype around weed, I’ve seen people’s lives fall apart and their grades plummet due to it, and I don’t want the same thing to happen to me. Eventually, weed isn’t going to be enough for a lot of people, and they’re going to want to try other dangerous substances. The fact that marijuana is a gateway drug, and so many teens, especially at Sherwood, are using it speaks volumes as to what we can expect in the future. I think it’s capable of being a major distraction and quite frankly, we