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Uppers, Downers & All Points in Between

Weed and Teens. High Times:
Are They the Best Times?
Author: Magali Aguado

As teenagers, we all seem to be curious about 
marijuana. Who can blame us? We hear about marijuana 
in music videos, on the radio and in magazines. It’s 
on clothing and jewelry. It is readily available where 
we hang out. We all have friends who have tried it, 
and listening to them talk about their experience 
makes you want to try it, doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure 
it does. But have you ever thought about what 
marijuana really is and how it affects you as a 
teenager? Well, let me tell you that marijuana, also 
known as weed, pot, grass, reefer, ganja, Mary Jane, 
blunt, joint, roach or nail, has been around for quite 
a while. No one is really sure where the name 
marijuana came from, but some people believe it came 
from the Spanish words for “Mary Jane.” Marijuana is a 
green or gray mixture of the dried leaves and flower 
buds of the Cannabis Sativa plant. It can be smoked in 
a “joint,” which is marijuana rolled into a cigarette. 
It can also be smoked in a regular pipe or water pipe 
known as a “bong.” 
People have used marijuana for more than 4,000 years, 
mainly as a medicinal herb. It was very common in the 
Middle and Near East in past centuries. Marijuana use 
moved across North Africa, appeared in Latin America 
and the Caribbean, and finally entered the United 
States in the early decades of the last century. In 
the 1960s marijuana use was barely starting to spread. 
By the 1970s and 1980s it had become very popular with 
high school and college students. And today, marijuana 
use has spread even more among teenagers.
Even though marijuana use or possession is illegal, 
drug dealers and drug users always find a way to sell 
or buy it, but sometimes they get caught. I 
interviewed Officer Francisco Ibarra from the 
Watsonville Police Department and asked him which 
group of people in Watsonville is most often caught 
with marijuana. “Teenagers are usually caught with 
marijuana or under its influence,” he says. And what 
happens to them?  “They can get a DUI if they are 
caught driving, have their driver’s license suspended 
and be put on probation,” says Officer Ibarra. 
This drug is known to have mind-altering effects. It 
contains about 400 chemicals, but the main and 
strongest one of all is tetrahydrocannabinol, mostly 
known as THC. Marijuana has a sedative effect, but the 
experience can vary depending on the user’s mood, what 
they expect to happen, and of course the concentration 
of THC. In most cases marijuana makes people relax and 
feel more aware of sounds and colors, and time seems 
to go by slowly. A 19 year-old woman I interviewed 
said, “It makes me giggly, and laugh about everything 
I see.” Marijuana can be a relaxing drug. It can also 
cause reactions that might not appear at the moment, 
but show up with long-term use. It is said that 
marijuana does not create physical dependence, which 
means that the body doesn’t need the drug. However, 
regular users can become psychologically dependent and 
rely on marijuana to get themselves through the day. 
Some even use it more than three times a day to keep 
functioning and feeling relaxed. 
The use of marijuana can increase your pulse rate, 
decrease blood pressure, increase appetite and 
sometimes cause dizziness. “I felt as if my body was 
asleep,” said Jerry, age 19. The effects can start 
within a few minutes of consuming the drug and may 
last a few hours depending on how much was taken or 
the  amount of THC. Short-term memory loss after and 
while being under the influence of marijuana is 
commonly reported by marijuana users. Some people say 
that marijuana makes them very anxious, panicky and 
paranoid. Users also have less coordination and are 
more likely to cause accidents if driving or working 
under the influence. “My friend almost caused an 
accident because she was driving too slow due to the 
effect of marijuana,” said Angel, age 18. Overall, the 
use is damaging to the lungs and pulmonary system 
because of inhaling unfiltered smoke so deeply and 
holding it in the lungs for as long as possible. 
This is quite a lot for just a joint, isn’t it? Not 
counting the possible brain damage; changes in your 
social life and schoolwork; problems with family and 
yourself, of course. You are at risk of losing the 
real you if you become dependent on marijuana without 
even realizing it. “Nothing really excites me now 
unless I’m high,” said an anonymous 17 year-old boy. 
Well, now you can see that there is more to that 
little joint than just getting high, relaxing for a 
few hours and waiting till the next time.