Protecting children and teenagers from drugs, alcohol and tobacco has always been a concern for parents. Many schools expose their students to drug awareness campaigns to educate them about the damage narcotics can have on the human body. When the discussion turns to illegal narcotics, these groups will discuss how marijuana and other drugs can lead you down a path of violence and gang activity. So why is it that those who use alcohol or smoke cigarettes won’t be led down this path? It’s because these drugs are legal and are available in the open market. Drugs like marijuana- that many argue have less harmful risks involved with its use than alcohol and cigarettes- remain illegal despite the high demand it has in the United States. When alcohol was prohibited in the US, gangs and bootleggers formed cartels to control the alcohol market. Violence erupted across the United States for years until the ban was lifted. Similarly, the same thing is going on today with marijuana. The only difference is that many of the cartels and dealers target the younger population. Cartels sell marijuana to teenagers and try to have them join this vile underworld. By keeping marijuana illegal, we have created an unsafe environment for young people to live in.
The only way for most teenagers to buy marijuana is from drug dealers. The frightening aspect is that many of these drug dealers have connections, one way or another, with drug cartels and gangs. In some instances, teenagers will become members of these violent groups. Edgar Jimenez happens to be one of these teenagers. Jimenez, a United States citizen, was working for the South Pacific Cartel since the age of 12. While working for the cartel, he was paid $2,500 for every person he beheaded. Jimenez killed four people before being arrested last year. He was only 14 when he got arrested.
Sadly, his story isn’t unique. There are many other stories about teenagers getting swept into the violent underworld of drug cartels. A recent survey of 55,000 school children in Mexico revealed some shocking information. One in five students reported that they had seen a classmate carry around some type of weapon. On top of that, one in eight students would sell marijuana one of their friends egged them on. From this report, it looks as though drug cartels are casting a wider net to recruit young people into their network.
What some fail to realize is how much harder buying marijuana would become for teenagers. If marijuana were to be legalized, it would be distributed to stores and shops across this country. Like alcohol and cigarettes, there would be an age limit set for who can and can’t buy the product. Cashiers and stores across the country are required to uphold the laws in place when selling to a minor. They are held accountable if they do sell to minors. Currently, anyone under 18 can just call up their dealer or whomever they know and buy marijuana. No id checks for the buyer and no accountability by the seller if the buyer gets caught. This isn’t to say that teenagers will all of a sudden lose the interest to experiment with drugs. But wouldn’t you rather have your child buy the product from a company that doesn’t inflict pain and violence upon innocent victims like gangs and drug cartels?
In conclusion, we need to protect the younger generation. But we must reevaluate how we go about doing this. It is evident that our drug laws concerning marijuana have inadvertently helped spawn more violence and hasn’t kept marijuana out of the hands of the public. We need to face reality in the fact that people will always experiment with drugs. Additionally, we need to remain vigilant in educating younger people about the risks attributed with using narcotics. The health risks and benefits of marijuana are still being debated. There is no debating the rise in teens being associated with violent cartels.