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RENJE: Reefer madness on campus

While there was unfortunately little to no shock value to the recent five-part series by Sports Illustrated on the corruption of Oklahoma State football — as most of us assume this goes on to varying degrees at every major university with revenue producing sports — a telling quote gave an indication of how our youth are ensnared while growing up with the rebranding of marijuana as a soft or harmless drug.

“Everybody thinks marijuana isn’t a bad drug, but it really has destroyed my life,” former running back Dexter Pratt said in part three of the series titled “The Drugs.” “When I was (at Oklahoma State) I wouldn’t have said it was an addiction, but it was.”

Seldom have we seen the pendulum swing back and forth to wild extremes of cultural perceptions as we’ve seen with how society has viewed marijuana. Due partly to the fictional, propaganda film “Reefer Madness” released in 1936, the public perception of the drug was one of horror that could lead to murder, rape, suicide or insanity.

Unfortunately scare tactics not based on substance don’t last for long. Since the 1960s, the backlash to “Reefer Madness” from the counter cultural movement has moved further and further mainstream. The result is a growing perception amongst the culture that marijuana is a harmless and safe drug.

As a result of the shift in societal attitudes, we must now, more than ever, properly educate our youth on the dangers of using marijuana — not by fictional scare tactics, but by reality. While we hear that the drug is not addictive, Dexter Pratt tells us a different story.

A mind-altering substance, marijuana may not be physically addictive like alcohol or heroin, but the grips of a psychologically, addictive, mind-altering substance is no less a detriment to those addicted.

Addiction is addiction, be it physical or psychological.

Once a person becomes addicted, getting high is often the only thing they think about, and in the case of marijuana, this leads to lower levels of personal drive, ambition, motivation as well as increased levels of paranoia.

How can I verify this last sentence? Well, outside of countless medical studies, I’ve seen it firsthand. I used it as a youth and it was truly the end of the innocence of childhood for me and hundreds, if not thousands of others that I’ve seen over the years.

‘A’ students become ‘C’ students. ‘C’ students become ‘F’ students, often dropping out. Great athletes become average athletes or quit competing all together.

Are there exceptions to the rule like our current president? Yes, but by and large our youth that begin using the drug inhibit themselves from fully reaching their talent and potential. Many graduate to more potent and deadly drugs as yes, marijuana is a gateway or stepping stone drug.

The legalization push would just further legitimize use among our youth by sending the signal that it’s harmless and OK to use.

So some straight talk is necessary. Not by scaring our kids away from the drug but by showing them through our own lives that the best life lived is a peaceful, joyful existence with a strong, clear and sober mind under the influence of nothing more than the Holy Spirit, through having a relationship with Jesus Christ.