Smoking in College

Smoking in College

It should come as no surprise that cigarette use has been curtailed by the powerful campaigns against smoking. The ads and the commercials from national health organizations and agencies have been effective in educating the public about the perils of cigarette smoking.

It should come as no surprise that cigarette use has been curtailed by the powerful campaigns against smoking.  The ads and the commercials from national health organizations and agencies have been effective in educating the public about the perils of cigarette smoking.  More and more people are quitting, and fewer are getting hooked in the first place.  But that doesn’t mean we’re becoming a nation of temperance-spouting teetotalers.

College kids are smoking, but it’s not tobacco that they’re putting in their pipes. The latest news from the “Monitor the Future” project at Michigan University informs us that marijuana smoking has surpassed cigarette smoking for the first time in recorded history.  No surprise either.

We are rapidly approaching a national movement supporting the decriminalization of marijuana as more and more states have opted to support both medical and recreational use of cannabis products.  The hype surrounding pot smoking has been silenced to a mere whisper, and more and more young people are choosing marijuana over cigarettes (and alcohol) as their “go to” drug of choice.

Is pot smoking more dangerous than alcohol?  Statistics have shown us that marijuana is safer than both alcohol and cigarettes.  Deaths from marijuana are nowhere near the rates from other drugs. In fact, there has never been a documented overdose from users of marijuana.

Is marijuana the gateway drug that it’s been touted to be?  The federal government funds programs every year that look into the drug use and drug history of American citizens.  Marijuana is typically the first drug that people use along with alcohol and cigarettes,but not every pot smoker turns to the more serious, heavy-duty drugs such as crack or cocaine in a steady progression ending with crystal meth or heroin.  The argument that pot smoking is the first drug in the career of a hard line drug user falls apart when you look at the statistics.  For example, in a 2010 government study there were over 2 million reported pot smokers responding.  Of that number only 5% tried heroin.  This is hardly an argument for the continued criminalization of marijuana.

Given the information above, is pot smoking a good thing? Or is it a bad thing? In addition to the fact that smoking of any kind is not good for anyone’s lungs, the brain imaging of heavy marijuana smokers has revealed changes in blood flow to the parts of the brain that are involved in memory and attention.  Just this finding alone gives cause to be concerned for young pot smokers.  Although the drug is not addictive, people have a hard time stopping once they’ve been using for a while.

So what is all of this telling us?  It’s telling us that marijuana is not as bad a thing as the ad campaigns against pot smoking have led us to believe.  But on the other hand, it is not giving anyone the green light to “go out and spend all of your free time in a zombie statewhile watching the faucet drip.”  What we can learn from all of this is that, in moderation, pot smoking can be a healthier alternative to cigarettes and alcohol.  And if it becomes legal in all 50 states, we can only hope that government controls will keep some of the toxic chemicals out so it is safe to use.

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