Marijuanaalso referred to as pot or weed— often has a bad reputation. The drug, known for evoking a relaxing and calming sensation in its users, is becoming increasingly popular especially with the youth. Nine states in the U.S. have approved the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes and 31 states have legalized medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, despite the increasing number of legalization in the country, many states haven’t caught on.

The most common method of consuming marijuana is smoking it, whether that be through bongs or joints, as well as directly consuming it in foods that are known as edibles. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “When a person smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. The body absorbs THC more slowly when the person eats or drinks it. In that case, they generally feel the effects after 30 minutes to one hour. ”

The common misconception is that marijuana is detrimental to one’s health and that it is highly addictive. This is completely false. Studies have shown that the only negative effects come as a result of heavy smoking at a young age, which is the main concern for state legislature. According to CNN, “The percentage of students who had used pot in the previous year increased to 24%, up 1.3% from 2016.” This shows the extent to which teens are using marijuana, which would most likely be much higher if surveyed at an arts school such as Dreyfoos.

With all of this being said, a 2012 study done in New Zealand reported “significant declines in IQ between ages 13 and 38 in heavy users compared with those who used marijuana occasionally before age 18 or not at all.” However, many people argued that this study failed to take into account external issues, such as family life or dropping out of school.

Other studies in California and Minnesota tested groups of twins, one of which was a regular marijuana user. According to Science Magazine, “Over the course of 10 years, the team administered five intelligence tests and confidential surveys about marijuana use.” The results of the experiment found that the twins lost identical IQ points, meaning that marijuana use had no effect on their development.

Many people wouldn’t even categorize marijuana as being a drug due to the fact that it is a naturally grown plant with no extra steps needed to chemically transform it, as well as the fact that it really isn’t as dangerous as other illegal substances. Legal substances, such as alcohol, pose more of a threat than marijuana. Alcohol is directly responsible for killing close to 88,000 people a year, according to The Huffington Post, while marijuana is responsible for none.

Even President Trump said that he would likely support a bill ending the federal marijuana ban, which allows the federal government to arrest individuals who possess marijuana, regardless of whether it is legal in their state. Especially with Canada’s recent country-wide legalization, many Americans are hoping for the federal and state bans to go away. Evidence has proven that marijuana isn’t dangerous, and state legislature should recognize this. Once state governments get this idea through their heads, we’ll be able to look forward to a greener future.