Marijuana has been used by cultures all around the world since the early BCs, both medically and recreationally. For centuries, it has been praised for its healing capabilities, and bashed for it supposed effects on the brain. Though it’s history is complicated, to fully understand the substance’s place in society, we need first understand how it became a “bad” drug.

In 17th century, the growth and cultivation of weed was widely encouraged of farmers, because of the plant’s many unique qualities and uses, like making rope and fabric. It was continuously encouraged up until the 1900s, when it was then integrated in modern medicine.

Smoking it recreational was seen as upper-class, until it was introduced to Americans through a wave of Mexican immigration in the early 1900s. With the introduction of the drug, also came the culture of Mexican usage surrounding it. Because of this, the drug eventually became associated with Mexican culture. As resentment toward the Mexican population grew, as did the resentment toward the drug.

The anti-drug population saw a way to use this association to their advantage, with many campaigns connecting the two surfacing. In the 1930s, at the height of Great Depression, anti-drug propaganda slogans capitalized on the fear of immigrants stealing jobs and committing crimes, beginning the process of banning it. Ever since then, lawmakers have been quarreling over the state of the drug. At the moment, legalization is on the upswing, with 32 states have legalized marijuana in some, with 10 states allowing the use of it recreationally.

Now that we know where the drugs stands from a legal perspective, what about the view from the general public?

According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) annual survey of people 12 and older, Marijuana is the third most used drug in the US, at around 23.9 million users. It’s only succeeded by cigarettes at 63.4 million, and alcohol at 136.7 million. A statistic taken from the The Monitoring the Future Survey, sponsored by NIDA found that the percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders who had smoked weed at least one time in their life was as high as 29.3%.

So this raises the question, how did these numbers get to be this high? Well, part of it stems from its accessibility to teens. One anonymous teen who stated they were a frequent user on a forum asking the same question gave some answers,

“My first time smoking was with a friend who got his stuff from his uncle I believe, maybe someone else but I know it was a relative, which is the first way many people my age group acquire said substance and in some cases harder stuff. when it comes to the drug market, most dealers treat business as business regardless of age, race, or whatever else. All they care about is the money in your pocket. I’ve met dealers who were in their 30–40s who just approached me on the street asking if I’d like to buy, as well as met similar people from just asking people myself.” he also explains that another, simple way to obtain weed is through school, “The main and easiest way for teens to get bud or whatever else is at school. Now I’m in the USA, so I can’t speak for other countries but public schools are the easiest way to find anything you desire. All you have to do is ask a few classmates and you can have an eighth in your pocket by the time schools out, or many times friends will introduce teens to dealers outside school.”

According to a survey taken at a local high school 87.7% of students can or know how to get drugs illegally. This is clearly a problem for students, users and non users alike. We hope parents and caring adults focus their attention to this issue to help our schools become safe and drug free.

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Cole Thompson and Matteo Voth are 9th graders at Samohi

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