Marijuana is not safe

by Matt Howard

Lakes Area Youth 

Service Bureau

I teach a chemical awareness class once a month all year round at the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau.

Every month for the last 10 years I’ve stood in front of approximately eight to 10 youth and their parents to talk about alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. In the last year I have received more pushback and questions surrounding marijuana than I ever have.

People are beginning to believe that it’s “not that bad.” The youth of this generation, and especially the high school juniors and seniors of the last couple years, seem to be getting pulled into a movement that is trying to paint marijuana in a better light than it deserves.

In the last year we’ve seen two states legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for those 21 and older.  This has sent ripples through the marijuana using community and is validating a lot of young people’s incorrect notion that marijuana is safe for them to use.  It’s not.

Average street marijuana is approximately four times more potent today than it was in the 1960s. It has more affects on the brain than it used to.

Marijuana is addictive. Currently it has the same addiction rate as alcohol. One out of every nine to 10 people that use marijuana on a regular basis will become addicted to it.

Marijuana slows reaction time. It is dangerous to drive under the influence of marijuana. It slows thought processes, which slows critical decision making. You can get a DUI for just driving under the influence of marijuana.

Marijuana deposits THC in the fat linings of brain cells and slows the brain down. The longer a person smokes the more this build-up happens and the more brittle the brain becomes. Electricity stops flowing through certain parts of the brain and, much like a stroke victim, the brain needs to “re-wire” to find other routes for information to flow.

Users become unmotivated. It takes more work to perform the same brain functions they used to, so the end effect is they do less thinking that results in less productivity both mentally and physically.

Teenagers rarely believe any of these facts because they likely can’t see any of them happening within the first six months to a year of use. Depending on how much someone is using it can take that long for some of the physical damage to set in on the brain. It creeps up slowly on the user and is hard to notice even when it’s happening to them. Just because it’s not a dramatic and immediate threat for overdose like some other drugs doesn’t mean it’s not a threat.

Marijuana mainly robs people of their lives a little at a time, not all at once.

Our society needs to start telling the story of the longer term harmful effects of marijuana. Our youth need to get this message loud and clear.

— Matt Howard can be contacted at the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau at 651 464-3685 or [email protected] for more information. For more agency information visit

  • Paula

    Unfortunately, the information that is presented in this article is based on bad science that is actually promoted by Scientology.

  • Tom Pavone

    Wow have you ever even read anything about Cannabis? do you know the history? the medical uses? Seriously dude, you need to read up on the subject you sound as uneducated as the 1930’s reefer madness campaigns. Get a life. Our brains are meant to have cannabanoids in them? there is a whole system in the brain called the endocannabinoid system. so stop with the propaganda, or maybe read some propaganda written in the last 5 years cause your just spewing the same crap every Pro-BIG PHARM idiot spews. Stop sending innocent people to jail. Im sick of paying to house non violent drug offenders to sit away and get feed and housed for free. Ill bet your a republican right? then you should be FOR cutting our debt & creating Jobs by legalizing cannabis instead of inflating our debt by going after non violent drug offenders. you are pathetic.

  • dirtyrat

    This article is so full of lies. Do some research on your own away form the influence of this obviously brainwashed individual.

  • dirtyrat

    It seems the comments are either turned off or someone keeps deleting my comment

  • dirtyrat

    Ah I’m being censored. Welcome to the Fascist state boys and girls.

  • Mike Williams

    hahahahahahahah joke :p

  • techno_bob

    Wow, just keep regurgitating the same tired old reefer madness garbage. Here’s a clue. It’s an adult substance. It’s not for kids. You can’t keep kids away from it by lying like this. Any of the kids who have tried it know you’re lying & will tell all of their friends. The definition of insanity is doing/saying the same thing over & over & expecting different results. You obviously haven’t figured that out.

  • pricknick

    Wow! Just wow!
    Another reefer madness believer.

  • CookieThumper

    Hey Matt, I know you making a living off saying this nonsense as do alot of others. Such as police, courts, and politicians to name a few. But, you should really try and educate yourself. Your doing a disservice to your community.

    • Margaret Lynn

      Actually, it is you, who need to educate yourself, go back to school, Cookie, I did, through the American Indian higher education program, got my degree in biology and chemistry, the higher dosages keeps many well educated Indians from using this stuff today.

      As far as your right to harm yourself, I stand by that, but know that you are the uneducated one, and this is from a marijuana user of a long time, least till your government ruined the marijuana, which is the stuff that you receive today. This is not the marijuana your parents, or grandparents knew, this is chemically altered garbage, you might as well go back to your poison pushers, the pharmaceutical companies.

      I am not going to reply further, I do not waste the Great Spirits time on stupid people who are more interested in their superficial rights, than with truth.

  • dirtyrat

    This article is so full of lies it’s ridiculous.

  • Peter Reynolds