‘‘I started smoking pot for social reasons,” said an anonymous Maria Carrillo High School senior boy. He continued to smoke not only for social reasons but also for self-prescribed medicinal purpose.

“I have ADHD, so I used to be on Adderall,” he explained. And after smoking, “when I sat down to work, I couldn’t get up or stop working until I was done.”

He credits marijuana for his personal growth as well, although he admitted he was unsure whether smoking helped him grow or if he just grew up on his own.

“I really got to know myself more,” he said. “It forces the walls down and you can really see yourself and other people.”

Another senior found marijuana use helped relieve stress.

“I had a hard sophomore year, and smoking helped me relax more,” said the anonymous senior girl. “I got a better perspective of what was making me stressed.”

Other students see smoking more as a form of entertainment than stress reliever.

“It’s fun. It changes the way you perceive things and alters your way of mind,” said an anonymous junior boy, who added he smoked marijuana almost daily during last summer. “It allows you to experience reality in a way you can’t without it.”

However, many teenagers are unaware of numerous studies that conclude that marijuana has a negative effect on teen health. According to abovetheinfluence. com, “When you’re young and your body is still growing, marijuana actually has potential of inflicting long-lasting, negative impact on a developing brain.”

A study done by researchers at the University of Southern California found that smoking marijuana as a teen can double a man’s risk of getting testicular cancer later in life.

An article by California Watch said the researchers have speculated that chemicals affecting the hormone system could be partly responsible for the rise in testicular cancer in men, including some of the properties found in marijuana smoke.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, or NIDA, states that “in chronic users, marijuana’s adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off. As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.”

The junior boy disagreed. He said he had friends who reported “smoking hangover” but had never experienced any himself.

Another study, reported on last August in The Press Democrat, found teens who smoke marijuana regularly risk an average drop of eight IQ points later in life.

“I’ve heard about that (article), but I need my IQ most right now,” the junior boy said in response. “I’m not worrying” about the health risks. “I haven’t noticed anything.”

“It’s hard to believe in specific studies over others,” said the senior boy. He said some studies say smoking is not a problem while others say it is and can, “for example, kill you.”

The senior is joined in his views by NIDA, which admits “research into the effects of longterm cannabis use on the structure of the brain has yielded inconsistent results. It may be that the effects are too subtle for reliable detection by current techniques.”

NIDA says that in the first hour after smoking, marijuana users can expect a nearly five-fold increase in the risk of a heart attack. Even for a youthful population that finds themselves unconcerned about heart attack, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogens than tobacco smoke. A report published in the Western Journal of Medicine adds that “deposition of tar and adsorption of carbon monoxide . . . were four and five times higher, respectively, after smoking marijuana than after smoking tobacco.”

“I think it (smoking) is bad because it decreases intelligence and hurts society,” junior Erika Chang-Sing said. “One of the important things for our society is to be able to be happy by ourselves,” instead of using drugs as “artificial happiness.”

“I’m not really for drug use. I can see why people do it, I just don’t believe in it,” said sophomore Francesca Scardino.

She said drugs have the potential of “leading someone down the wrong path.”

“Drug use separates people who are going to do something with their life and those who aren’t,” said senior Christina Riccioni.

This article was reprinted from Maria Carrillo High School’s Puma Prensa newspaper.