Marijuana’s Effects on Durango High School Students Since Legalization

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An average high schooler’s doodle on their planner

Braden Higby, Reporter

Since the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in 2012, it has become increasingly easy for students at Durango High School to obtain pot. As a result, there is a lot of controversy from students and teachers surrounding the possible benefits and drawbacks of marijuana.

“I think students using pot is bad, as their minds and bodies are not fully formed and it does more harm than good- furthermore, I don’t think teenagers have the experience or frame of mind to self-medicate with any drug,” said English teacher Ryan Montgomery.

Marijuana is indigenous to Central and Southeast Asia and has been used for 4,000 years in religious ceremonies and as medicine. Today, marijuana can be smoked recreationally and legally if you’re over 21, but students have found ways to purchase marijuana illegally.

“My friends know a lot of people who have a medical cards and they get it from them. There’s always some around,” said a senior who prefers to remain anonymous.

Components of marijuana have been used to treat a variety of health issues such as epileptic seizures, PTSD, nausea, glaucoma, insomnia and general physical pain.

“I have sleeping issues so my acupuncture therapist asked what else helped and I told him marijuana,” said an anonymous junior.

Despite the possible health benefits, teenagers who smoke marijuana daily are over 60 percent less likely to complete high school and 60 percent less likely to graduate college, according to The Washington Post.

“Sometimes, when I smoke it, it makes me really paranoid and just really scared of stuff. It makes it hard to focus on anything like school work,” said another anonymous junior.

Smoking marijuana can cause short term memory impairments, altered judgment, severe anxiety, psychosis (loss of touch with reality), reduced motor coordination and slow reaction time.

“I ate an edible and 20 minutes afterwards I remember laying down in my tent at a festival feeling like I was going to die,” said an anonymous junior.

Of 107 students polled at DHS, 49 admitted to trying marijuana. Out of these 49 students, 46 percent reported marijuana made it harder for them to concentrate on school work and 54 percent said it made it easier.

“I don’t think students should be smoking pot because their brains are still developing and I think it could hurt their brains,” said science teacher Erin Zarko.
Also, 18 percent of the pot-smoking students admitted to coming high to class often.

“Whenever I come to school and I’m high I’m able to do everything how I usually would,” said an anonymous senior.

The poll at DHS also revealed quite a bit of bias. Out of 43 students who admitted to smoking marijuana, 30 said they thought marijuana use is beneficial to students. However, out of the other 43 who said they have never smoked pot, 31 said they thought pot use was harmful to students.

“My education about marijuana is pretty minimal and short ended. You’re told in school that it’s bad for you and that it’s a bad decision,” said Jr. Grace Cooper.