South Park Taught Me That “Marijuana’s Bad”.

So, today is the big day. The legalization of marijuana in Canada. The day that health care and the progress of kids, will change forever in Canada.

I taught in high schools for 21 years. I have seen the societal shift of parenting, increase of pressures from both home and school to perform well, the onset of technology, increasing levels of anxiety, and the need for decreasing strictness (or what- have you) on kids that may not manage things well. While I am no longer a teacher in schools, there is one thing I find (above all) important… and that is that importance of emotional learning, regulation and balance for mental health.

As many know, I have struggled with depression my whole life. It increased when I went on medications as a teen. I was on accutane; a drug which dermatologists prescribed for bad acne in the 90’s. Being a drug that was not fully understood when it was prescribed to me- I took it for 2 years. Research now suggests a maximum of 6 month stints. Side effects include joint pain, headaches, mood swings and depression. While taking this prescribed drug, I was also told I needed to be on the pill. Ah, the pill. A birth control method, that is now also a solid contribution to some women’s mental instability, and can even show effects within the women’s reproductive organs. 2 years. 2 years during time of puberty. 2 years of contributions to adjustments to hormonal build. These were prescribed drugs that were guided… and yet still had adverse affects.

Now, as a woman who understands that some drugs actually do help when taken consistently, I teeter on a fence of right and wrong for prescribed drugs. None the less, I do not teeter on any fence when it comes to mental illness and allowing child, and teenage brains to develop properly, and at the rate it should. While I need to take medication daily for mental illness, I am also very cognizant of whether or not the medications have been: a) well researched, b) all the side effects, and c) what my values are for functionality. Along with this, I drink as much water as I can, and eat well. And, above all- exercise, play and rest are key in my daily balance. But, as an adult I have also learned to research.

Some drugs, whether they are prescribed or social, can cause great harm. Effects that are not seen until our bodies, and mind age. Or, perhaps a user may not be well versed with the side effects. My set backs were due to vain attempts to be ‘normal’ and listening to people who were quite knowledgeable. However, the setbacks of social drugs can also be in vain attempts to be normal. Teens struggle with peer pressure, fitting in, and keeping up. None the less, social drugs have a harmful side effect called addiction. The legalization of marijuana is terrible for the growing teens, twenty year olds and up… as it will make easier the purchase of such drugs. Like many do as a teen for alcohol outside the “dep”- a simple question to a known adult can buy the drugs needed for a party. The legalization will also give the idea that, it’s ok to use the drug. It’s not.

Teens, when exposed to frequent use of marijuana, decrease their recall of short term memory, decrease their ability to retain information, decrease amount of healthy sleep, decrease gross motor ability, decrease balance, and most of all, increases anxiety. The increased anxiety is then the trigger to return to use; thereby instilling the habit of use- i.e: addiction. Kids as young as 12 years old, are demonstrating signs of addiction to marijuana and developed countries. From that, an increased number of teens and young adults are showing signs of major mental illness from their withdrawal and anxiety with increased use of marijuana.

When we had the onset of technology, we lost our ability to spell, research accurately, and our understanding of seeking out an answer. Siri aids us to get a quick fix of information. As teens become increasingly exposed to marijuana, and used to the accessibility- their addiction levels increase. The withdrawal of technology is bad…but let’s be honest- drugs will be a devastating cost on healthcare and education systems, now that we have made drugs more accessible in their legalization.

With a young girl entering into the solid stage of knowledge in the world; I worry.

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