Marijuana appearing in newsfeeds




Social media has become a prime location to find images portraying the use of marijuana by students.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2013: 7% of 8th graders, 18% of sophomores and 22.7% of seniors have used marijuana in the past month.

* – Name withheld to maintain anonymity

With the rise of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, it has become commonplace to see photos of people, often teenagers, with pipes, or other paraphernalia, and a billowing cloud of marijuana, also known as weed or pot, smoke. This is no different for some students at Marshfield.

Senior Anthony Flores-Fraser has seen such photos online.

“To me, it’s just another photo,” Flores-Fraser said.

Having an online account containing photos of illegal activity can be hazardous when in search of employment and even acceptance into some colleges.

Superintendent Dawn Granger, who aided in the development of the school district’s hiring policy, said all potential district employees must be drug tested and may lose their chance at a job if the test comes back positive. She also said an applicant will not be refused the employment if the drug in their system is prescribed and being used as directed by their doctor.

“All new hires must be tested for drugs. If the test is positive, we have to look at their prescriptions to see what the prescription is and also to see if it is being used as it’s supposed to be,” Granger said. “If they are using a drug not prescribed to them, they would not be hired.”

ASB Coordinator Jennifer Bunnell advises against posting photos displaying drug use.

“Students don’t realize how that can affect their future, because that picture will never go away,” Bunnell said. “I think it’s going to adversely affect this generation.”

Although some may argue using social media to screen candidates for a school or job is a breach of privacy, Flores-Fraser said one must understand what they are signing up for.

“You signed up for the account knowing that other people were going to be able to look at your stuff,” Flores-Fraser said. “If you’re willing to show your hundreds or thousands of followers, then why can’t you show one person who’s trying to hire you?”

Marijuana usage has gained more acceptance in society over the past few years despite its illegality. Ronald,* a senior,said he thinks people make it a bigger problem than it actually is.

“It isn’t as bad as other drugs like tobacco or alcohol, which are legal,” Ronald said.

Senior Christofer Thomas agreed.

“I don’t think people should care as much they do,” Thomas said. “It’s common, it’s everywhere.”

Being classified as a mental depressant, marijuana can have a largely negative effect on school performance. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, THC, the chemical in marijuana which gives one a high, at recreational doses causes the user to lose concentration and the ability to retain and recall information.

Bunnell is against marijuana usage and said it will negatively affect one’s ability to learn.

“Even if it’s legalized in Oregon, I am not for it,” Bunnell said. “I’m old school, and I think pot makes you stupid.”

Many teens who smoke while attending high school, according to Thomas, succumb to the effects of smoking and are unable to complete their work to their greatest ability. Thomas said these students, over time, tend to choose marijuana over quality of schoolwork because they lack the responsibility to put school ahead of marijuana.

Thomas was once one of these students.

“All I wanted to do was sit there, smoke weed, do nothing,” Thomas said. “Now I’m putting my mind towards school . . . it’s better now.”

Freshman Shaylynn Jensen said drug use should be kept out of school as well as the public view.

“I feel like if you’re going to do that, keep it away from everywhere else,” Jensen said. “Social media and stuff like that.”

Illegal or not, marijuana consumption has become common in today’s society. As users continue to encounter the desire to smoke, the matter at hand becomes more of a balancing act instead of a solely illegal one, in the youth especially. Thomas said being a marijuana user and a student requires the ability to discern priorities.

“If you really can’t balance it, then you might as well just quit smoking weed,” Thomas said. “Graduating is obviously more important than trying to smoke weed.”