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Books or bongs? Comparing CHS students’ reading habits and marijuana use


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Marijuana, also known as weed or pot, is a drug from the dried flowers of cannabis sativa. It is used for medical and recreational purposes, and can be consumed as edibles or through smoking; either through pipes, joints, or blunts. With Ohio legalizing medical marijuana usage in 2016 and proclaiming weed possessions of under 100 grams only a “minor misdemeanor,” it is one of the favored states predicted to legalize the complete selling of marijuana in 2018.

It is in this matter that we decided to survey high school students from all grade levels at Canfield to hear their opinion on the legalization of marijuana, and their personal usage of weed. To do this, we asked each student three questions: Should marijuana be legalized?  If it were legalized, what should be the appropriate age to start? Do you use marijuana on a monthly basis?

To make our results more interesting, we decided to compare the illegal action of smoking pot with a much more common, legal, and dignified activity: reading. In addition to the questions asked on marijuana, each student was also questioned whether they read on their own – not for school – on a monthly basis. Here, we compare these results gathered from students at Canfield with national statistics.

According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 15% of teenagers in the U.S. aged 16 to 17 read a book, electronic book, print, or listen to an audio book at least once a month, with 69% of them reading on a weekly basis. This national statistic is higher than our school percentage, with 45% of Canfield students reading once a month or more (146 surveyed). However, our survey did not take reading for schoolwork into account, which may explain the difference in results.  

In the marijuana portion, we found that 61% of Canfield students students feel that marijuana should be legalized (147 surveyed), a lower percentage than that of the average American millennial, which Pew Research Center found to be 71%.        

Of our students, 43% thought that if weed was legalized the correct age to begin using it recreationally would be 21, with 14% thinking 18, and 8% thinking below the age of 18 (133 surveyed).

Finally, after surveying students at our school we found that a low 18% of students claim to use marijuana regularly (154 surveyed). This number is not far from that of American teenager usage on a national scale. In 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 7.4% of kids aged 12 through 17 admitted to smoking pot regularly, while a 2013 survey from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 28% of high school seniors across the country proclaimed it. Since our Canfield survey did not bias on grade level, our data should be between those numbers. In addition, our information could sway based on students possible failure to answer our question honestly.

Comparing our statistics, at Canfield a larger majority of 45% of students read on a monthly basis than the 18% who use marijuana regularly.

So what does this data mean? Students at Canfield are slightly more conservative than the average American teenager, with less of us using marijuana and wanting it to be legalized. In addition, the high 43% of students considered 21 or over to be the correct age to begin using marijuana, again showing that Canfield students tend to be more reserved.

Though the statistics say that we read less on average than the national comparison, if we asked students how much they read including books for schoolwork, our reading percentage would increase. No matter how this information is interpreted, one thing to agree upon is that, whether it’s reading a novel or smoking a blunt, ultimately the decisions we make are our own.

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Books or bongs? Comparing CHS students’ reading habits and marijuana use