Today there are a huge number of young Cannabis users in our country, in 2009 there were 12,642 reported underage Cannabis users in the UK.
But why do something they are told not to? Are these kids really as misguided and “dumb” as so many would have us believe or is there reason behind their “reefer madness”?
As adults we are still told Cannabis is Illegal, Evil and shouldn’t be trusted as it will make you go mad etc. We know most of this is pretty much blatant propaganda, unjust mis-truth, or heightened hysteria. So we choose to take our risks against a law we believe to be wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I have known people who react badly to Cannabis, mainly paranoia – Cannabis of course can heighten your emotions and therefore over emphasise whatever’s underlying in the first place, and I have always said to anyone who has this reaction to Cannabis, “don’t smoke it”, simple as. Of course it’s not for everyone; this applies to any drug, legal or otherwise. However, as far as Cannabis goes, the number of people who do not experience any adverse effect far outweighs those who do.
But what about the youth of our society, is it boredom? The thrill of Taboo? Peer pressure? Or an educated decision?
I can still remember my first experience of smoking pot, age 15. However as I hurtle inevitably toward my impending 30th I can no longer really look at myself as a voice for the youth. Having a younger brother and sister, however I have still spent quite some time around teenagers and though the lingo, dress sense and taste in music may have changed. Certain principal elements remain, weed is one such cornerstone. Plenty of teenagers do it, they always have and always will and no matter what measures prohibition uses, they always manage to get hold of it.
I always found that there is generally a golden rule when it comes to teenagers, they need little encouragement, what they need is guidance.
I know I certainly fell under that heading.
My point is that if you tell a teenager not to do something because it’s illegal, bad for them etc, etc, they’ll still go out and do it anyway if for no other reason that it’s a taboo.
This of course is just my opinion, to actually find out the real reasons behind it, we need to go directly to the source and find us some pot smoking teenagers so they can give us their side of the story.
One thing is for sure, for many of the kids I have met who do smoke, they aren’t the stereotypical chavs, sitting on street corners waiting to intimidate that poor old lady from down the street. They are generally polite, quiet, intelligent, and respectful.
They tend to keep to themselves, try to avoid trouble and enjoy themselves.
One example is “Rubber duck” who has smoked pot since the young age of ten.
“I’ve been smoking pot for over ten years now” he says, “from smoking solid down the skate park as a kid, to taking in premium skunk from all over the world” he smiles.
“I first tried it to calm my nerves whilst skating but then quickly adapted it into my musical lifestyle, inspired by at first Bob Marley then most of the bands I’d already been listening to anyway.. I also liked the idea that I could get away with doing it without my parents/teachers finding me out which made me feel clever, ha-ha”.
When I asked him how he first got into pot he replied, “I guess one of the older lads offered it to me, not realizing quite how young I was and then it began a bit of a ritual whenever we hung out, whether we were skating or not we’d still get the old bottle n lid on the go “
Since beginning he has studied Cannabis culture for quite a few years and smokes regularly with friends.
This reminded so much of how I first started (albeit, not quite as young), smoking solid with friends on a bottle lid. It made me wonder just what other experiences I was going to hear.
“Wrath” aged 17, suffers with severe bi-polar disorder and frequent mood swings.
“I like weed its one of the only things other than a cig that can chill me out when I’m p***ed off, and that happens easily” she says.
“My brothers smoked so it just sort of happened naturally, I knew there wasn’t anything to be really afraid of. Cannabis is nice; it smells good and is green, a very natural non-toxic looking, natural green.
It is a wonderful little plant that does a lot, well a lot more than that Prozac stuff does, nada, nothing. Anyway, continuing, I’ve done weed for a while and it’s never negatively affected me.
Except when I threw up once but you can do that on a normal cig.
Also the whole thing of it giving you schizophrenia is bull, you have to have it underlying first and there are ways to tell if people have that before it becomes openly obvious, so that’s a ballsed up theory, MJ opens the mind and, if anything, cleanses it.
I believe it should be legalized because it’s harmless and has more good qualities than alcohol and smoking it prevents cancer too, but if it is legalized there should be an age limit like on alcohol and smoking due to obvious reasons, children aren’t developed enough to handle these thing properly.
I just know that without it, I wouldn’t be as chilled and would probably become a psycho and kill lots of people because of my condition”.
Rowena started smoking Cannabis aged 14 and has been smoking it on and off ever since.
“I am a regular smoker and enjoy it, I started smoking it at a friend’s house when I was 14 and became a social smoker with friends I trusted in a safe environment” She says.
“I had been smoking cigs for a while at that point and had no issues with the idea of weed, so when my friend offered me a smoke, and I knew I was safe with them, and that they would keep an eye on me, I decided to try it and enjoyed the relaxed feeling it gave me”.
“At that point in life I had been dealing with a lot of really, really bad things and it helped calm me and help me sleep without suffering from night terrors.
Weed is ace for pmt and is fun to cook with (she recommends ginger nut cookies) and we have made pies with cannabis pastry etc”.
She tells me, her only dislikes are that you can’t always guarantee the quality of what you buy, “rocky can be hit and miss with plastics etc.
I have been smoking for over half my life now and I know some people can suffer with psychosis but I think sometimes that does depend on the type of person smoking and if they are susceptible to psychosis” she says.
“I don’t think I suffer, as I was slightly mental before I started smoking. I can smoke or not and enjoy smoking with friends as I don’t often drink”
Rowena is now aged 29 and has a real love for life, which she enjoys with her husband and young son.
She has always worked in education and fortunately has never been arrested.
These are just three contrasting examples of smoking Cannabis from an early age, but there are so many more.
Of all my research 90% of the people asked admitted to starting smoking Cannabis under the age of sixteen.
Now I’m not saying that our kids should all run out to a dealer and roll up, however given the choice between my teenage child imbibing alcohol, or smoking pot, I know which I’d prefer.
The point is from all the experiences that people have shared with me, the positives always seem to outweigh the negatives.
All of the adult smokers who admitted to smoking weed under the age of 16, are responsible people, with good careers and stable lifestyles and they all share a common factor, their love of Cannabis.
And not one seems to talk about any adverse effects.
If this is what the members of general public say, then why does our Government still seem dead set on the idea that Cannabis is so dangerous?
As we know, alcohol is dangerous, and perfectly legal. It also doesn’t mean that everyone who enjoys a drink is an alcoholic.
I think it should be left to us, to decide what we choose to relax or medicate with and not decided by a jury, let’s hope this all changes soon.
As for the topic of teenage Cannabis smoking;
Young? Yes. Dumb? Definitely not!
What I like to think they are is a key to a bright, fair and hopefully green future.
Keep on toking, peace. WildChild.
By Ainsley Bedford