Marijuana is a danger to young people who smoke it

Youth lighting a spliff

The smoking of marijuana can cause damage to one’s mental health, especially young adults between the ages of 13-25 years old. Dr Jordan Eaton, psychiatrist and senior medical resident at the University Hospital of the West Indies, believes that young people of these ages should not be smoking as “their brains are still developing. There is an increased risk of damage to the developing brain”, says Eaton. He noted, also, that social changes can occur. Conflict might arise with school figures and families. Marijuana can also cause low educational potential in the future. Psychiatric symptoms like schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder can start to occur or it can even trigger hereditary mental disorders.

Lucien Morrison (not his name), a computer science student at the University of Technology, aged 24, has been smoking marijuana since he was 13 years old. It is expected that he will start to experience health issues after smoking for 11 years. Morrison explained that “I did biology in high school, so I know it mash up lungs”. Morrison shared that he smoked whenever he was feeling stressed and “even when I am not stressed, it’s like an addiction”.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that marijuana, which comes from the plant cannabis contains mind-altering compounds. It has been listed as one of the most commonly used drugs by teenagers. These mind-altering compounds or chemicals, including THC, are what can trigger a person to start exhibiting unusual behaviour. Morrison said when he started smoking in his earlier teenage years he would be easily angered by simple situations.



Morrison also highlighted the changes in his mood on a daily basis, he smoked up to six ‘spliffs’ a day when he was stressed or feeling down. Morrison pointed to the physical aspect of his health, as he had been experiencing extreme shortness of breath when playing football and his endurance had decreased when running. “I tend to brush my teeth more often”, says Morrison as he knows that smoking causes discolouration of the teeth.

Marijuana affects people mentally. They can experience hallucinations, temporary paranoia and even schizophrenia. A patient who was recently released from a mental facility in Spaulding, Mandeville told the Jamaica Monitor “dem tell me say me have schizophrenia, but me nuh believe dem”. The patient started smoking marijuana at 16 years old, stopped at 17 and started back at 19. The patient is now 23 and thinks it is better to smoke cigarettes now because marijuana is too strong.

Furthermore, the patient thinks the marijuana is causing damages to the brain and no longer wants to continue smoking it. The patient said he started smoking due to stress and depression regarding school.

Sash Lewin, 23, who started smoking at 19-years-old, says smoking helps “to slow down my mind, my anxiety and stops my overthinking”. Lewin smokes four times a week as it also helps with boosting her appetite and her insomnia. Lewin says she is sometimes influenced to smoke based on social situations.

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