The US Government estimates that marijuana usage rates have increased ten-fold in the last 25 years. That’s a lot of added smokers. The government’s stated position is that this increase is because of increased availability, which is a good answer, but it isn’t the only answer.
An alternative is that the general body of knowledge surrounding marijuana has increased and improved. That is, the public is now aware that marijuana does not lead to criminal or otherwise violent behavior, nor is it physically addictive in the same way that cocaine, nicotine or alcohol are (though it is habit forming). Thus, people are more willing to puff the proverbial magic dragon.
Another possible answer is the decreased stigma surrounding the drug’s use. This is a harder case to make, given that it relies on the idea that people are more willing to admit usage if others are too, making it easy to get into a “chicken-or-the-egg?” style debate on the issue. That is, it’s hard to tell what came first, increased use or the admittance of it. Still, it is worth noting that in states where marijuana has been legalized at the recreational level, a reported increase in use is generally seen as a result of decrease in stigma.
Being in Washington state, it’s interesting to observe people’s attitudes towards marijuana. Certainly, we are more liberal than most folks, but what is the cause of this liberalization? Is weed just more accessible, or are people getting smarter about pot and learning that other, non-criminals like to smoke too? Or is the pot out here is just
My point is that while folks from my generation may have liberal attitudes towards marijuana, these attitudes are not necessarily the result of our dooby-dooby-pothead lifestyle (well, maybe a little bit). Instead, they are the product of an evolving culture. So don’t get mad when the youth’s look a little bleary eyed. Instead, know that they’re being safe and they know it.
To quote the Who, “It’s only teenage wasteland.”
—Will McQuilkin, A&E Editor
Will McQuilkin is a senior Communication major, hailing from a small California farm town in the San Geronimo Valley, often described as a hamlet. He has survived not one, but two surgeries on his right hand (pinky finger and thumb) due to baseball related injuries. His favorite candy is Sugar Babies.