Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, according to Drug Facts. Nearly 55 million adults currently use marijuana, according to The Washington Post . Recreational marijuana is legal is 8 states, and medical marijuana is broadly legalized in 21 states. This means marijuana is the more accessible to minors then it ever has been and marijuana maybe one of the safest drugs on the streets of America. But to minors, it can significantly affect a developing brain.

To protect the privacy of certain individuals the names and identifying details have been changed.

“I was at a party, I had no right to be there, to be honest. We all just took a little bit of everything, in the spur of the moment.” Tom said. Tom was a freshman at Timber Creek when he first smoked.

According to Frontiersin, adults who used marijuana as minors have significantly poorer sustained attention, cognitive inhibition, and abstract reasoning, and Marijuana use before the age of 18 can have an effect on your IQ. According to NPR, children who smoked weed lost 8 IQ points from childhood to adulthood.

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 is the federal U.S. drug policy marijuana is still considered a schedule one drug, along with Heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy.

Everyone smokes for different reasons. For some it’s a necessity, while others its peer pressure.

 “[At a party of seniors] One of them pulled out a big bag of weed, started rolling blunts and said that we would just pass it around, and so I was trying to act cool at that moment, because I didn’t want to leave.” Tom said. “Honestly, I was a little bit nervous, I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this, it’s illegal.’ You know, It’s one of those things. If everyone is doing it, why not me too?”

Tom said he has continued to smoke to help with his anxiety and depression.

“I had a broken leg and I found that smoking weed helps me a lot better than what drugs the doctors gave me.” Tom said. “I do this for fun but there are thousands of medicinal reasons why marijuana is so much safer than pharmaceutical drugs that [doctors] issue.”

“Just because I smoke weed doesn’t mean I’m just a stoner. If you can’t see past that one aspect and treat me as a person, then that shows more about you than it does me.” John said. John was first introduced to drugs while in 7th grade.

Read the introduction and other stories in our series “Hello, My Name is Drugs” at this link.