Facts for educators about marijuana

TALKING

ABOUT MARIJUANA IN THE CLASSROOM

talkmj.JPG (20331 bytes)According to

University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future data, marijuana use by

students in grades 8, 10 and 12 has risen each year in direct correlation to the decreased

harm students associate with the drug. As perceived risk goes down, youth use

rates go up. Studies also show that students are beginning to experiment

with marijuana at younger and younger ages. These findings point to the need for

serious communication about the drug to dispel myths and emphasize real dangers.

When the topic is marijuana, students need

to know facts. They need to know about their relationship to the drug. They must be aware

of the increased likelihood that they will become involved with marijuana or know someone

who is involved with it. Good, open communication is the primary skill teachers

must bring to the challenge of influencing youthful attitudes about marijuana.

Topics to be covered when talking with children and youth and marijuana include the

following:

  • What is marijuana and what are the many

    names for it?

  • What are the side effects of marijuana use?
  • What is the nature and possibility of

    marijuana dependence?

  • How do you critically assess movies, books,

    and music that show marijuana in a favorable light?

  • How do you pick supportive friends who are

    drug free and who help you remain drug free?

  • What are the effects of marijuana use on:

    school work; one’s relationship with others, including parents; and future hopes and

    dreams?

  • How do you say no when presented with the

    possibility of becoming involved with marijuana?

  • How can you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
  • What are stress reducers that don’t involve

    drug use?

As is often the case with many parents

today, teachers are being called upon to educate students about the dangers of a drug with

which the teachers themselves may have experimented in the past. Despite the questions

this raises in your own mind, it is important to recognize why student use of this

drug is indeed dangerous. The latest research points to the reality of marijuana

dependence. As with nicotine, marijuana users who discontinue using the drug report

feelings of irritability and depression – conditions that often encourage resumption

of the habit. Moreover, young people who use marijuana are 85 times likelier to

use cocaine than children who have never used marijuana. (Source: National Center on

Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University).

Marijuana impairs short-term memory

and the ability to concentrate – abilities recognized by all

educators to be important to school success. It slows reflexes and coordination

and impairs the user’s ability to judge distance, speed and

time – abilities that are important in sports, computer work, driving a car

or riding a bicycle. Marijuana smoke causes the same kind of respiratory problems

that cigarette smoke does – and can do more long-term damage to the lungs and

heart than even cigarettes can.

For more information on marijuana, visit Basic Facts About Drugs.

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