Determinants of Marijuana Use

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Marijuana is a popular and universal drug. It is easily accessible to most people and is the number one illicit drug used in North America. Although the availability and knowledge of this drug is fairly equal for all people in North America, marijuana tends to be more prevalent in teenagers and young adults. Maisto, Galizio, and Conners (2004) reported that "use of marijuana [in young people] was 8.0% among those aged 12-17; 16% among those aged 18-25," as compared to "6.8% among those aged 26-34; and 2.4% among those 35 and older." People of all ages, races, and religions use marijuana and have their own reasons to use it. Young people first try marijuana because of some common reasons. Some teenagers feel pressured by their peers to experiment with this drug and fear alienation if they do not. Others are curious about marijuana and see it as a safe way to experiment with illicit drugs. There are also some young people who want to rebel, usually against their parents and authority figures, and view marijuana as a sufficient way to do that.

Peer pressure is one of the main reasons teenagers and young adults in North America decide to experiment and try new things. This kind of pressure often leads young people to use different types of drugs such as cigarettes, alcohol, and very frequently, marijuana. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) believe that "one of the results of this widespread marijuana use is that many teens have friends who are making some unhealthy choices" (Monitor Your Child's Activities, 2004). Trying to fit in and be accepted, teenagers feel they have to coincide with the crowd. It is a common belief for young people that if you go against what your peers are doing then you will not be liked. Adolescence can be a very difficult and confusing time; this stage of life can make people weak and vulnerable to the influences around them. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) gathered evidence that "22 percent...
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