Sammy Hallal | Torrey Pines High School Senior
On Monday, January 1, retail marijuana shops opened their doors to customers for the first time in California history. Crowds lined up at dispensaries hours before opening to get their hands on legal weed. The landmark policy change is seen by many as a major step forward in the mainstreaming of the drug; however, this emerging normalization of marijuana is not supported by everyone.
California is the most populated state in the nation and the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana. According to New Frontier Data, the California marijuana industry is expected to reach $7 billion in a few years, which is more than the $6.6 billion of the entire cannabis market in the U.S. in 2016. With Washington and Oregon also allowing for the sale, use and cultivation of weed, the governments of the whole U.S. Pacific Coast have welcomed in the growing marijuana industry, demonstrative of the changing culture around the drug.
“It was not very surprising to me that [Californians] decided to legalize weed,” Kamren, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy said. “The pro-weed attitudes among younger people are nothing new. The real change is going on outside of our state, where even discussing the topic was considered taboo.”
In the eyes of the federal government marijuana is still considered a schedule 1 drug, alongside LSD and heroin, and in 42 states recreational marijuana is still illegal. The controversy over legalization isn’t limited to just outside of California.
“I have a bigger problem with the new culture around weed than I do with it actually being legal,” Loedel, a senior at Torrey Pines High School said. “It is still a drug and it seems like people are forgetting that. Pot can impair driving ability and teenagers can, and already do, abuse it.”
According to a poll by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana use among 12 to 17-year-olds dropped to a 20-year low in Colorado despite legalization, defying legalization opponents’ predictions.
“People who are going to smoke weed are going to smoke weed anyways, whether it is legal or not,” Mccord, a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School said. “…I really don’t think that [legalization] will lead more teenagers to smoke. Some people don’t like to smoke and some people do, it all depends on the person.”
There is no denying that with legalization all people, including young people, will have easier access to marijuana. This increased access to the drug, however, is not going to make students use pot. In the end, teenagers will be teenagers, and if they want to experiment with drugs there is, sadly, not much that can be done to stop that.