Constant changing norms in our society have lead to the normalization of marijuana use among Millennials. Although medical marijuana has had a beneficial effect on a large population, the habit of recreational marijuana use has increased dramatically in recent years. Currently, it is the third most popular recreational drug in the United States, due to the popularized idea marijuana is harmless. Recreational drug use is characterized as the use of a controlled substance without medical justification for its psychoactive effects. This often occurs under the belief the drug is not habit forming. The normalization of the drug in our society and the leniency shown by the judicial system in some states when dealing with regulation shows the legalization of marijuana to be on the horizon.
Although the use of marijuana is slowly becoming more acceptable in certain states, many U.S. citizens still believe it to be a gateway drug; meaning it could lead to the use of heavier drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy is a strong believer in this idea, he himself having dealt with addiction. For him, marijuana led to his heavy drug use and after intensive rehabilitation he was finally rendered drug free. However, according to a study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse where they found that marijuana was a gateway in some cases, there is a debate that a majority of marijuana users rarely move onto heavier substances. Therefore, in many cases, marijuana precedes the use of other substances but is not directly correlated to the abuse of stronger drugs.
The controversy may have an effect on the perception of it as a medicine. Medical marijuana is defined as using the unprocessed marijuana plant or its extracts to treat a disease or symptoms such as seizures, dementia and nausea. Various patients believe marijuana helps relieve their pain. However, the jurisdiction that facilitates the usage and distribution of marijuana as a medicine, has also made it easier for non-patients to acquire the drug. A marijuana infused tampon has recently surfaced on the market, said to alleviate period cramps for female users. While patients should have the first say on the preferable treatment for pain, recreational usage might be affecting this choice.
Even though the judicial system has shown leniency towards the decriminalization of the drug, they have refused to loosen restriction on its medical purposes. As of now, marijuana is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning is it not accepted as a medicine and has a high potential of abuse. This is according to the DEA, who have classified the drug under the same bracket as ecstasy and heroin. How can jurisdiction differentiate between cases of recreational and medical use, when state and national laws contradict each other?
In our fast growing society, more people are trying marijuana everyday. It is up to educational systems to educate students of this generation on both the benefits and downfall of marijuana usage. Whether it be for recreational or medical use, it is a personal choice, but would one be so eager to try it if they were aware of its effects? That’s why education on drugs will not push Millennials and the future generation to try drugs, but rather educate them on what will happen if they do.