A billboard advertising cannabis on University Avenue in Hillcrest. Photo by Chris Jennewein

By Sadie Lemauga

As more and more states legalize marijuana, and more cities allow marijuana businesses to open, adults need to recognize the impact this has on teens.

Too many teens believe marijuana is harmless. Despite what many say about marijuana being good for your health, I can say otherwise. I have witnessed family members use marijuana and other drugs, and have seen how it can spiral out of control. They started using marijuana in high school, became obsessed with it, and it consumed their lives.

I have also witnessed problems at school with friends and peers. Most times when marijuana or vaping comes up in a conversation, it instantly turns into a brag fest about how cool it was to smoke, or how they did it just that day in a classroom or in the bathroom. I’ve had friends who were always against drugs suddenly get into marijuana because others were. This ultimately strained our relationship as they became daily users of marijuana, going out of their way to get a smoke just to have some fun.

Marijuana is addictive and unsafe, especially for young people. The adolescent brain is particularly susceptible to marijuana’s harmful and addictive effects. We already know that school-age youth are using marijuana at an alarming rate, which adversely impacts school achievement and overall graduation rates. Marijuana vaping by 11th graders in San Diego County jumped from 2% in 2017 to 17% in 2019.

I’m vice president of the Be the Resistance Club at Oceanside High School. Our club has been sharing these concerns about marijuana with local officials. Unfortunately, their decisions support the marijuana industry instead of Oceanside’s youth.

The Oceanside City Council recently approved a marijuana manufacturing facility known as Left Coast Extracts. Two councilmembers opposed this because they recognized how the marijuana industry is targeting teens, just like the tobacco industry.

I wonder what other generations will look like when marijuana becomes even more widespread. If we continue to allow companies like Left Coast and others to create products that attract youth, when will we finally take a stand?

I don’t want to see more people experience the consequences of drug use, because when it comes down to it, marijuana is addictive and a problem.

Adults and policy makers were outraged at how the tobacco industry targeted teens with products like JUUL. California even passed Senate Bill 793 this year to ban flavored tobacco products.

But where is the outrage and concern when the marijuana industry does the same thing? We need to ban marijuana vaping products before too many teens get hooked.  Please join us by signing our online postcard.

The more we allow this marijuana problem to fester, the harder it will be to undo its effects on society, which is really something more people should consider. After all, do we really want a society built on generations of addiction?

Sadie Lemauga is a senior at Oceanside High School and vice president of the Be the Resistance Club affiliated with the North Coastal Prevention Coalition.

Show comments