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The Lantern

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The Lantern examines drug use in Cannon Falls.

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Students abusing drugs come in all shapes and sizes

Students abusing drugs come in all shapes and sizes

Matt Martin

Matt Martin

Students abusing drugs come in all shapes and sizes

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John Doe’s* mom left him for ten years. On his own with his grandmother who drove him to practice and helped take care of the family. His grandmother became a mother figure, looking out for him and caring for him.  When his grandmother passed away, John was devastated. As life moved on John couldn’t, until he hit a blunt and had an instant change of mood. She wasn’t gone, she was in a better place, and he was finally relaxed.

The stigma around marijuana is being broken. The younger generations are welcoming pot into their culture and the older generation is as well. Because of this new trend, and not knowing a lot of stoners, I asked kids around Cannon Falls for their experiences in this illegal endeavor. In-depth interviews helped me understand what the average smoker in Cannon looks like: not average.

Officer Paul Larson was able to give me some insight on the current situation. “I’d say there’s not a lot [of drug trafficking]. A majority of the large amounts of drugs we found on people or in cars are passing through Cannon Falls.” Because of this, the Cannon Falls Police Department is more focused on stopping the harder drugs, meth, heroin, and so forth, but with students and drugs use, Officer Larson said, “…due to their age, warnings are not generally given. Giving a warning doesn’t carry any consequences…” This is why with their first time offense, students are sent to a division class, and as continual offenses rack up they will be sent to treatment.

As I continued my search, I was shocked by the responses to the interview questions. Some students reported seventy-five percent of the senior class has tried marijuana. The lowest estimate was fifty percent. One described the high as “Dizziness, light headed, and you don’t weigh anything.” Others said, “Feels like life is better than it is right now. Takes everything around you and seems like it’s better. It’s fun.” Another said, “You know what’s going on but your head is cloudy. You have slower reaction but you can function. With drinking sometimes you can’t function.” For everyone marijuana seems to affect them slightly differently.

Many also used the drug for different reasons. Many compared it to alcohol, “It’s like going to the bar and watching a sports game,” in the fact that it is a ‘social thing’. “It’s a Good vibe circle.” One said. “Everyone is happy. I haven’t smoked by myself in three years. It’s a social thing. Pot is what got me to meet all the people I know. It’s not all pot, we play games.” For others it’s a way to escape from their current hardships.

“When I first started smoking, I had a lot of shoulder and knee pain, as then I smoked and would sink into the couch and I wouldn’t focus on any pain. You feel a bit of heaviness behind the eyes.”  Other hardships included dealing with family and a problems at home. “Throughout all my family issues my family would make jokes that I didn’t think were so funny and took it too far. It made me suicidal and smoking weed in ways it rings out a happiness that you never could have found when you’re sad. Soon as you take a few hits your mind thinks of completely different things.” Some use recreationally, others ‘self-prescribe’ to help them with emotional issues. “I smoke because I had anger so it relieves stress and mellowed me out. I had to go to treatment, and I did stop but started up again. Only smoked it two times after that.”

Eight out of ten surveyed affirmed the statement that marijuana is not a addictive and isn’t a gateway drug.  “A buddy of mine bet me I couldn’t go two weeks without smoking but once I reached that I bumped it up to six months. It’s not an addictive drug. If it’s your first time ever smoking, you don’t get high. You get high either your second or third time. It numbs you basically, it’s a depressant so it chills you out.” Another confirmed, “It’s all in your head. I use to be a huge pill popper and alcoholic. It was because some kid said try it and I made a dumb decisions. I almost shot up [heroin] once and then I stopped. What kept me straight was smoking pot.”

Those that said it was a gateway drug had very different opinions. “The reason I feel only circumstances it’s a gateway drugs is because it’s the mentality of the kids and what the home life is that gets people going to heavier drugs like heroin. It also depends on the person. Some are looking for their greater high.” Many reported the effects are like or less than that of alcohol. “Wouldn’t say it’s worse than alcohol, but it really messes with your head. I’ve seen with some people that they tend to be really stupid. Technically it’s better for you but it all depends on how you use.” However, others confirm the problems that pot can cause. “I would definitely say it is a gateway drug because like alcohol you grow a tolerance. I chew and I don’t even get a buzz, it’s like that.”

Finally, the biggest surprise was those experimenting with marijuana. Some started out smoking at parties, got some from a friend, or even tried it once at a Church Camp. “It’s super diverse. People you would not expect. It’s weird. Christians, jocks, emos, pretty much everybody.” Along with that, those that I interviewed came from every demographic I could think of that fits within Cannon Falls. Christians, Atheists, Democrats, Republicans, and from different socioeconomic backgrounds all have experiences with pot.

This information is not meant to draw conclusions on whether we should legalize marijuana or not. It’s to educate that the average smoker isn’t the stereotypes we all believe them to be. Some are this way, but most have dreams, aspirations, and hopes to make a better future for themselves and a better living.

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