Currently I reside in Baltimore county Maryland. While recreational marijuana is still illegal, it is decriminalized. This means that if you are caught with less than 10 grams of marijuana, it is just a civil offence with fines, rather than jail time or probation. This fine increases with each offence, but still does not usually start out very high. This has lessened to risk for causal smokers to travel around with marijuana, and to just carry it on them. It also helps to lessen the workload of cops, because they no longer have to bust low lever criminals that are just smoking weed.
Marijuana is used recreationally across all ages, regions and cultures. In adolescence, children are most typically introduced to marijuana in high school, but sometimes it is even earlier. In a school atmosphere, kids will do just about anything to fit in and make friends, and if that means partaking in smoking a little pot, most of them will say yes.
The way that they teach kids about drugs in school, is as if people would be offering drugs constantly to you, and for free. While this might have been the case several decades ago, there is not a lot of “free drugs” going around schools now. Teenagers are pressured to use drugs, but most often it will be from friends and it is a different type of peer pressure than just a random stranger coming up to you and saying, “Hey you have to smoke this weed or I don’t think you’re cool.”
Teenagers often turn to recreational marijuana to escape the burdens and stress of school, overbearing or strict parents, and just regular typical teenage drama. Many people will also use it to sleep at night if they are having trouble. Studies have shown that the abuse of recreational marijuana in young brains can have a negative impact on brain development, which is why in states where it is legal for use, the minimum age to purchase is 21.
Adults who are over the age of 21, often choose to use marijuana recreationally for a number of reasons. It can help a person relax, get creative, and laugh. Groups of friends often get together and partake in recreational marijuana and just hang out. Many view marijuana as much safer than alcohol, because it usually does not make a person want to go out and party. Instead the effects of marijuana make a person content with sitting down, eating, and being just generally lazy.
The marijuana theme has taken on many roles and places in society. There is weed yoga, where people will gather and have a ‘smoking session’ before launching into an hour long yoga practice. There are board games, T.V. shows, movies, festival, concerts and so much more weed related activities and media. There are weed hotels, weed restaurants, and entire careers that focus on the recreational marijuana trade.
Maryland is also one of the handful of states that allows the use of medical marijuana for those who qualify. Patients have the access to the medicinal marijuana after going through a process and if they have a disorder that can be treated with marijuana. These conditions can include eating disorders, anxiety, depression, insomnia, bipolar disorder, and much more. The list is quite extensive, and convers most medical diagnosis.
Medical patients can go to local dispensaries and purchase marijuana at will. Some stores will allow you to bring in a visitor to come with you, but not all of them. Recently I went along with a friend to a dispensary nearby and got to go inside and check it out. This placed looked like a regular doctor’s office, with a waiting room and separate rooms where the doctors were. I had to leave my license with the front desk, and wear a big badge that said visitor.
Being a visitor is a lot like being in a tobacco pipe shop or a liquor store underage, where you aren’t allowed to give any indication of what the person you are with should buy, tell them to try something, or tell them to get you something. You aren’t allowed to touch any of the product, or point to any of them as well.
Medical marijuana has done wonders for those who have not seen any success with other, traditional forms of medical treatment for their condition. In order to become a patient, one must first obtain a medical marijuana card.
The level of difficulty to obtain a medical card varies from person to person and state to state. Each person is looked at as a case-by-case basis, but if you have a qualifying condition, generally you are not met with issues when trying to get your card.
Doctors who recommend a medical card usually are not covered by insurance, so it can cost a few hundred dollars to get your card. Some doctors require medical records, and some will just ask for a prescription pill bottle. Then patients will typically wait one to two weeks to get their card after being approved.
Impact of Legalization
There are many clear benefits that can stem from legalizing marijuana nationwide. While this issue is not currently on the forefront of the minds of those who are decision makers, the nationwide legalization of marijuana seems quite possible in the next decade.
As I mentioned earlier, the negative effects of smoking marijuana on a developing mind are quite dangerous. With revenue generating from taxing and selling marijuana, the government has the ability to use this money to start outreach programs for teens. They can start programs for drug prevention and education, as well as give funds to under resourced schools.
A good start is beginning with making medical marijuana accessible nationwide, and then working from there.