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Drew Q. Maneesh S. Vineeth S. Ellery K.

Reefer Madness Split is the best description of public opinion on the Schedule I controlled substance, known as weed or marijuana. This divide in opinion can be traced to 800-900 A.D., in the Arab world, where it was used as a medicine for many ailments. Many others in the region passionately argued the substance as a lethal poison. Flash forward to today where credible sources, such as the director of Drug Control Policy guaranteed the public that Smoked marijuana damages the brain, heart, lung, and immune system, while advocates for marijuana defend their beliefs to the end. A growing generation of supporters of the miracle drug has formed in recent years, especially among teenagers ages 15-17. An anonymous source from Naperville Central High School says Why shouldnt it be legal? It is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco and it is our number one cash crop. There have been many scientific studies published recently that back that claim. The biggest catalyst for change in public policy has not been the compelling research into the topic, but the dramatic shift in public opinion. People are warming up the idea of legalization. Social media has changed the landscape of how public opinion is formed and it is no surprise that a hot button topic like marijuana has a huge presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other trending social media sites. Recently, a twitter group called Weed Tweets, has reached over 1 million followers. This group supplies their followers feeds with all the news they need to know about weed culture. With all of these things

stacked up against the non-legalization advocates, it has been difficult to argue against legalization. According to Lester Grinspoon, a professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, There is very little evidence that smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes represents a significant health risk. Combined with researchers around the world, Grinspoons analysis isnt far from the mark. U.S. government officials arent far behind from the progressive view, with Jocelyn Elders, the former U.S. Surgeon General remarking on the topic The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms caused by illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, and AIDS. The U.S. government funnels millions of dollars into the war on drugs, which has shown to have little to no effect on the percentage of drug users in the nation, although many claim that the number of drug users would have spiked if it had not been for the Drug Enforcement Agencies efforts. Theres no lack of willing users, despite the war on drugs. 17.4 million people in the U.S. alone have smoked marijuana in the past month, reported drugpolicy.org. On the polar opposite of advocacy, lies a loud group of people that vehemently argue that the substance is illegal for good reason. There is also a lot of evidence to back up those claims. The most compelling evidence being the assertion that marijuana has a large and negative- effect on the minds of adolescents. This is false in the minds of many teens. The same anonymous source says Smoking weed has not changed me as a person and it never will. Many think it ruins your grades and fries your brain. Its not true. My grades have been the same if not higher. The National Library of Medicine has published extensive findings on the topic of teens using marijuana, and the results have shown thorough evidence that marijuana has does in fact

affect memory, critical thinking, and other skills of that nature for up to 60 days after use in teens. The research also showed that the same signs that were seen in adolescents only lasted a few days after use in adults. There could be signs that complete abstinence from the drug for an extended period of time could help teens experience full remission from all the effects, but the results are inconclusive on that so far. With all the polarization of public opinion, there are a lot of people that present misinformation as fact, and twist the words of credible people to project their own agenda. Such as sites like www.cureyourowncancer.org which claim cannabis oil can cure cancer! Its misreporting like this that impedes the progress of intelligent debate. The concern around marijuana doesnt just lie in its effects to the body; there has also been widespread belief for many years that use will lead to harder drugs. The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued a report that stated, "A new federal report released today concludes the younger children are when they first use marijuana, the more likely they are to use cocaine and heroin and become dependent on drugs as adults [...] Increases in the likelihood of cocaine and heroin use and drug dependence are also apparent for those who initiate use of marijuana at any later age." The evidence is clearly strong on both sides of this topic, and the debate has the potential to remain as-is for years. Is the new marijuana culture a step towards a more liberal policy system, or is it all simply reefer madness?