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Word Count: 561
Marijuana also known as pot is tolerated by many in our society as a harmless yet illicit drug But it is far from harmless and threatens the well-being of vast numbers of people From 1979 to 1993 illegal drug use in this country was decreasing But since 1993 it has been on the increase and marijuana use by youngsters 12 to 17 years old is up Officials in Washington fearing the trend are trying to alert parents to this situation One of the risks that goes with increased marijuana use is that the earlier people start using gateway drugs such as marijuana and tobacco the more likely they are to experiment later with drugs like heroin and cocaine On the educational front parents concerned about a childs performance need to realize that young people who regularly use marijuana tend to lose interest in school Ah who cares Whats the big deal about grades anyhow Im gonna have fun while I can Fun with marijuana impairs thinking reading comprehension and verbal and math skills Also research shows that young students dont remember what theyve learned when high Marijuana the harmless drug reduces short-term memory and alters a persons sense of time It also reduces the ability to do things requiring concentration swift reactions and coordination For instance driving performance deteriorates During adolescence marijuana may be especially harmful because research studies indicate that the drug has negative effects on hormones relating to sexuality These effects are seen in both young men and women Girls may have irregular menstrual cycles and young people of both sexes may impair their fertility Moreover long-term reproductive difficulties may arise causing great personal distress when adult life arrives Lung problems deserve consideration too Marijuana smoke contains more cancer-causing agents than tobacco smoke and it irritates the lungs and damages lung function In addition lab tests have shown that tars from marijuana smoke have produced tumors when applied to
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