Marijuana controversy continues

As more and more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana, communities like Ludlow need to decide if they will allow “pot shops” to open and sell the drug.


Sophia Furlani, Staff Writer

Many people — such as parents, doctors, teachers, and some teenagers — say that marijuana can have a negative impact on your life.

But is marijuana, or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),  really as bad as people say it is?

Not if you compare it to other drugs. Each year about 88,000 people die abusing alcohol and 480,000 die from smoking cigarettes. However, there has never been a death caused by using marijuana. You can’t overdose on pot.

According to an article by Business Insider, alcohol is more detrimental to one’s health than smoking weed. In fact, not only do more people die from alcohol, it’s also far more addictive than marijuana.

Some people say that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” And, while it has been linked to the use of other substances such as alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine, that is not the case for everybody. Not everyone who smokes goes on to do harder drugs. If a person has an addictive personality and lives that type of lifestyle, then it may lead to additional experimentation.

Marijuana is a Schedule I drug. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency,  “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” This definition exists despite the fact that some states have legalized THC for medical or recreational use.

Although Heroin and LSD have the same designation, marijuana has become way more accepted than those other drugs will probably ever be.  

There are 21 states where marijuana is not legal, 21 states where medical use is legal, and eight states where recreational use is legal. In Massachusetts both medical and recreational marijuana use is legal. However, many communities have banned its sale and it’s still unclear how it will be regulated.

Possession laws state a person can have 10 ounces inside a primary residence and one ounce outside the primary residence. You can also only “gift” up to one ounce to another person. Lastly, a household can grow 12 marijuana plants inside their home.

If you are 21 or older and caught with more than an ounce you will be charged with a fine of up to $100, and subject to confiscation of the amount more than an ounce.

In Massachusetts, it is also still illegal to smoke in public. You have to be in your home or on your property.

Other laws state people under 21 will be charged with a civil offense if they have under two ounces inside or outside a residence and over two ounces remains a crime. The penalty is a civil ticket but also a required drug education program.

Recently, in Ludlow, the selectmen  banned the opening of  recreational marijuana shops in town.

“Sure kids can get marijuana anyway, but putting up dispensaries would make it worse.” said freshman Ariel Vital. “I know middle schoolers who smoke.”

However, some disagree and believe since the drug is now legal it should be sold in a supervised setting.  “I don’t think [banning marijuana stores] was a good idea. Opening up shops would give people a way to get marijuana that wouldn’t be laced with anything harmful,” said junior Abbey Casagrande.

One fear of opening a dispensary is that individuals who have a medical prescription for the drug would abuse the privilege and provide it to those who don’t.

“[The dispensaries] are a nuisance and in the area we are it’s the last thing we need, let alone the people already growing their own and selling it, this is just something they’ll find a way to take advantage of and use for their benefit rather than for medical uses as intended,” said junior Jerry Smith.

Although many people smoke for recreational use, others use this plant as medicine.

Dating back to around 500 BC.  the ancient cultures did not use cannabis to get high, but as herbal medicine. This is even happening today as people use medical marijuana to help treat a range of illnesses and symptoms.

It has been known to treat, Alzheimer’s, Appetite loss, Cancer, Crohn’s disease, Glaucoma, Schizophrenia, Multiple Sclerosis, and much more. Cannabinoids, the active chemicals in medical marijuana, has components that can reduce anxiety, relieve pain, and control nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy.

And while not necessarily a “medical condition,” some people smoke because it alleviates stress and depression.

I asked an anonymous source why he smokes and he said, “Cuz, why not?” He also told me he “smokes two to three times a day….  I’m generally pretty happy normally, but when I’ve had a crappy day or something yes it [helps].”

I interviewed another anonymous source and he had different reasoning. He told me “I smoke to ease my anxiety most of the time. I rarely do it for fun.” I got the same response from two others saying the reason they started smoking was to help with anxiety as well as depression.

To some, the drug may not be as horrible as some people think. It has many effects that help people with a lot of problems.

I talked to someone who told me she was having bad abdominal cramps and pain killers weren’t helping her. After smoking she “noticed the pain fully going away.”

You definitely want to see a doctor, however, before treating your symptoms with marijuana.

Although marijuana does help a lot of things, we cannot ignore the negative effects.

Some short term effects can be memory loss, red dry eyes and mouth, increased heart rate, and changes in mood as well as coordination and balance. The long term effects can be poor school performance as well as impaired thinking.

One thing many people do not know is  there is no correlation between smoking cannabis and lung cancer.

There is also not enough research to say marijuana has a negative effect on the heart.

Although some websites report that marijuana can cause you to hallucinate, this is not necessarily true. In all cases where someone has smoked just weed they do not experience hallucinations. For the people that have, it makes the most sense to say their weed was laced.

Weed can be laced with PCP, LSD, cocaine, heroin, and even methamphetamine. This is one thing people should be vigilant about when buying marijuana from people other than from a dispensary. With laced weed there can be many worse effects like hallucinations as well as more negative effects on the body.

Lately, at Ludlow High School, vaping has replaced smoking pot. However, there are still people who get caught with some during the drug searches though.

Coming to school high isn’t a good idea. One student who smoked before school reported that he “couldn’t concentrate well enough…and had to skip some classes” so he wouldn’t get caught.

It’s hard for administrators to control what students do before they come to school, but they can still see the signs if a student is high. These symptoms can include, red watery eyes, as well as seeming “out of it.”

Marijuana is not for everyone, but with its legalization in many states it has become a popular recreational and medicinal drug.