Does legalization mean normalization?

Since the legalization of marijuana, it has been seen as normal when there isnt much normal about it.

Sofia Macedo Garcia

Since the legalization of marijuana, it has been seen as normal when there isn’t much normal about it.

Marijuana was legalized in California in November 2016. Although legalized and normalized over the years, legal marijuana has absolutely no chance against the sale of illicit/illegal marijuana. When passing the law it was actually for the thought that the legalization of marijuana would put an end to illegal selling. That was not the case in any way. According to Forbes, illicit marijuana sales are estimated to be $100 billion per year while the legal industry is slowly catching up. While both industries are extremely successful, they should be taken seriously and with precaution. There are very few safety precautions in place in terms of illegal marijuana because it isn’t regulated. Legal marijuana glamorizes the usage of it with the side effects being an afterthought. This begs the question, should the use of marijuana be normalized?

Living in California, you start realizing how we truly live in the world of marijuana. For example, on a road trip through California, you can see billboards on top of billboards advertising for a marijuana company. Even though we were given the title of “Weed State,” there isn’t much normal about the use of marijuana. Although others get to enjoy the use and benefit from it, some have nightmarish experiences that could’ve been avoided. If there was more precautionary information about it, none of these saddening stories would’ve happened. In reality, it doesn’t really matter where you get your marijuana from.  Either way, there are people who have terrible experiences with it. Due to marijuana being legalized, there should be no normalization to it. Instead, there should be more in-depth warnings for the sake of people’s health. 

Let’s say you buy verified marijuana from a dispensary. Clearly, as a user, you believe that this is the safest route to obtain what you desire. However, According to NIH, the use of marijuana can bring a lot of problems mentally and physically. Mental problems can range from changes in mood, impaired memory, paranoia, and psychosis. Physical problems can range from trouble breathing, heart racing, intense vomiting, and nausea. 

Anonymous female, 17, said, “I stopped using marijuana because it started to make me paranoid. Every time I smoked I thought I was dying. It was such an awful feeling and it made me scared to ever smoke again.”

According to this person, using marijuana frequently affected them greatly. It is not normal when you feel like you’re dying when taking something that is thought to relax you. This is not an uncommon occurrence. Additionally, it can get even more dangerous when the person that is acquiring their marijuana illegally, is unaware their marijuana is laced with other substances.

American Addiction Centers mention the possible other drugs and dangerous things that marijuana can be laced with. These dangerous combinations include lead, glass, heroin, and ketamine. The Boston Globe also tells the story of someone overdosing on “marijuana.” In fact, that same marijuana was found to be laced with the dangerous opioid, Fentanyl. According to this article, three people were arrested for selling Fentanyl laced marijuana. This story only reveals what someone suffers from an illicit marijuana sale. 

Anonymous male, 17, said, “I did smoke fake stuff, you can tell the difference when you hit something real versus something that is fake. You can literally feel the chemicals in your lungs. It hurts. It’s full of garbage, I regret it, it’s trash.”

Additionally, both SAMHSA and NIH mention the possible link between mental health problems that come with smoking. This includes depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Not only that, but it can absolutely deprive you of enjoying life and you start feeling a void. Smoking can create relationship problems and make your education progress decrease. Once again, there is nothing normal about this. 

A second female anonymous source, 17, stated, “I can recall genuine feelings of happiness before I started smoking but the times I’ve spent while I was high feel like nothing to me… I stopped doing my schoolwork, I went from a 4.0 GPA to getting Ds and Cs in my easiest classes. I stopped doing crafts, I stopped skating, I stopped cleaning my room.”

Unfortunately, many people had experiences with marijuana in which they started believing that they were ruining their lives and started regretting an action that they started depending on a day to day basis. In this case, even when marijuana is legalized, it shouldn’t be normalized. In a world where cigarettes and alcohol are becoming more and more normalized when they shouldn’t be, we shouldn’t make the same mistake with marijuana. There should be more awareness about the actual side effects of any type of marijuana. Most importantly, if you are smoking you have to take your intake levels seriously.

As for me, I don’t think that the use of marijuana should be legalized. I believe I’ve suffered greatly from people not taking it seriously. I had several events that were a part of my downfall. I indulged in this substance on several occasions, probably even more than I should’ve. As a result, I woke up one day not feeling real anymore, I looked in the mirror and goosebumps covered me when I couldn’t recognize who I was anymore. For a whole month, I had to meditate to go to sleep because I would suffocate in my sleep or wake up in cold sweats. I would cry every day asking to feel normal again for months. After several therapies and diagnostics, I’ve learned how to cope with it. About 2 and a half years later, I still feel the exact way. I still wonder if having a grip on reality will ever come back to me again. 

The second anonymous female said, “I would like to say something super corny but it is the truth! You are made to stand out, your differences are seriously the best part of you. You don’t need to conform to be accepted by others. If a puzzle had pieces that were all the same, then the puzzle would be impossible to complete bro.”

That being said, substances that are legalized such as alcohol, cigarettes, and now marijuana doesn’t make them normal in any way. Always rethink your actions when it comes to life-altering changes. If you don’t, you can end up like all the other people that consider it their biggest regret, including myself. Legalization does not mean normalization.