They all looked normal to me. Not at all like Cheech and Chong. Featured in an article posted April 16th on the Huffington Post website, were photos of seemingly sophisticated and affluent individuals of various ethnic and age groups recreation-ally using marijuana in various forms. The photos were highlighted in an effort to recast the reader’s view of marijuana consumers from the stereotyped “stoner” to average person. The article’s author, Matt Ferner , quoting a source, “Marijuana is being covered by the media in an increasingly sophisticated and nuanced way now that the laws are changing and more people are ‘out’ as marijuana users,” said Sharda Sekaran, managing director of communications for DPA.
As a parent, I’m less interested in the new “persona” of marijuana users and more concerned about how the negative effects of marijuana consumption is overshadowed by the medias’ and law makers’ successful attempts to paint it as mainstream. Additionally, it is apparent to me that we are losing the battle in educating young people specifically about the effects of marijuana use on the development of brain and the impacts to overall mental and physical wellbeing.
Countless studies published by NIDA, the Institute for Behavior and Health and other research centers, confirm marijuana use, particularly in adolescence, pose serious threats to the development of the brain and cognitive and neuro development. Furthermore, the cessation of marijuana use does not reverse these effects or restore neuropsychological functioning. These aren’t new facts. The scientific and medical communities have been telling this same story for years, but with more states legalizing marijuana use the story seems to be falling on deaf ears.
Sadly, despite NIDA’s and other organizations attempts to convey these research findings and threats to young people, prevailing thinking and attitudes among the adolescence population are that marijuana is a benign drug with no adverse health risks and no risks for addiction or escalation to other more serious narcotics.
There is a huge disconnect between the research being presented by the scientific and medical communities and what’s being depicted in the media. To hear the opinions regularly expressed in the news media, or see the photos posted in Huffington Post of affluent recreational users, or to watch storylines playing out in media entertainment, recreational marijuana is being portrayed as harmless and no different that enjoying a glass of wine. Adolescents’ opinions and attitudes are clearly being shaped by the mainstream media’s and lawmaker’s successful campaign of normalizing marijuana use. That message of normalization is what I call the dangerous seed that when planted, prevents the real facts and threats from taking root.