I’m going to continue to discuss what we currently know about the
harmful impact of marijuana, and how we can address perception of
Media literacy education is a framework for accessing, analyzing,
evaluating, creating and participating with media content, It assists
youth in developing critical thinking skills needed to make wise
decisions in the 21st century media culture.
Youth often state the belief that marijuana is “natural” and therefore
not harmful, and they may even believe that it has medicinal
properties. Often, they obtain their information from the internet.
A simple Google search yielded some of the following quotes from
“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically
active substances known to man”.
“Marijuana smoking, at least at moderate levels, does not harm lungs
but actually improves airflow rates and lung capacity”.
“The medical benefits of marijuana are virtually unlimited”.
“The physical benefits of marijuana are far-reaching, widespread, and
long-term….its potential for health and healing are enormous, and have
been completely unrealized by Western Medicine….The simultaneous
opposing action of marijuana is akin to balancing our entire system.
Such balance can be understood as a charged equilibrium, which is
defined as “well-being” experienced as physiological expansion and
psychological contentment and responsible for health. The net effect
is a highly functioning, yet relaxed, system with better fuel.”
Such statements reminded me of some of the old cigarette ads I’ve
seen, including the following:
“After 10 months, the medical specialist reports that he observed no
adverse effects on the nose, throat and sinuses of the group from
“Scientific studies show clearly the manner in which Camels aid digestion”
“Gives immediate relief in cases of Asthma, Cough Bronchitis,
Hay-Fever, Influenza, and Shortness of Breath”
"I recommend Thompson's Mell-O-Well cigars to any who are interested
in regaining or keeping physically fit."
“Luckies fine tobacco picks you up when you're low, calms you down
when you're tense”.
Most youth would scoff at the claims of the cigarette companies based
on what we know today about the harmful effects of smoking. However,
they often do not develop a critical distance from the messages that
they receive online.
We must help youth become more informed and discerning Internet users.
Media literacy education can help students gain perspective and
provide strategies for deciphering content.
How can an adolescent critically evaluate the information that is
available on the Internet? Criteria for evaluating content include
looking for verifiable documentation, use of reliable sources,
objectivity, and consistency.
By having youth make conscious, educated decisions about what they
find on the Internet, they also gain the higher-order thinking skills
necessary for lifetime learning in an information-rich society.
For more information on media literacy visit http://www.medialit.org/.
Director of Ulster Prevention