Smoking in the Shadows

Editor%27s+Note%3A+This+is+not+marijuana%2C+it+is+a+cigarette+bought+legally+by+an+adult+staffer+and+used+for+modeling+purposes+only.

Editor’s Note: This is not marijuana, it is a cigarette bought legally by an adult staffer and used for modeling purposes only.

Isabel Hanewicz, RHStoday Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s Note: It’s easy to find students who don’t support smoking. What’s not so easy, however, is finding ones who do and will admit it. The rhstoday.staff does NOT condone smoking pot, as it is illegal. When reading this story, keep in mind the reason more quotes from students that did not smoke was not because we couldn’t find them, it’s because we could. Their story has already been told. This story has not.

*Name and identifying details have been changed to protect identity.

Sophomore Darrin Winters* felt like he was going to die.

The garage where he was sitting felt like a sauna, and he was trapped. His chest hurt, his heart seemed to beat a million times over.

He’d only taken a few hits of weed, nothing out of the ordinary for Smith, who was a regular smoker.

This time, though, it felt different.

As the music blared in the background and his friends passed around another bong, he crawled out of the garage on all fours, thinking that it was the end for him.

“My heart was beating so fast, I thought I was having a heart attack,” said Smith. “It was the scariest thing I ever experienced.”

Let’s rewind a little.

Marijuana, more commonly known as pot or weed, is currently illegal in Florida. Despite that, weed is becoming a popular choice for teens.

According to a 2012 CDC study, 38% of high school students in Florida have smoked pot before, and 22% of students said they smoke pot on a regular basis.

Students who smoke risk more than just suspension- Student Resource Officer Lucas says if a student were caught smoking pot, the police would be called and, depending on the amount of carrying or induced, the student would be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense.

And the students who smoke know that. The rewards, they say, are just better.

“Weed is the most amazing thing, it’s like a medicine,” said Winters, who continues to smoke despite his experience in the garage. “It can do almost anything.”

***BEGINNINGS***

It was spring of Renae Walden’s* freshman year in high school. Before she got to high school she’d promised herself she’d stay away from drugs and drinking, be a total “straightedge.” Now, it was February. She’d been hanging out with some kids from another high school for a few weeks.

They all smoked.

They’d offered her pot before. She told them no, and they stopped asking.

She sat in a circle on the floor of a Holiday Inn parking garage as her friends passed around a bowl of weed.

She hadn’t originally been interested in trying pot, but now she was a little curious.

“I was just like, ‘Alright, I’ll try’,” said Walden. “I was like, ‘Um, wait, how do you do this, what’s this?’ So they just kind of taught me how to smoke [and] inhale.”

After that, Walden was hooked. She loved the way weed made her feel.

“It just heightens everything, kind of like you switched the HD switch on your life,” she said. “It just makes things easier, less stressful. It calms you down a lot. So if I’m having a really bad day at school or work, I just smoke a bowl and I’m good.”

Even though she says she smokes daily, Walden says she doesn’t pressure others to smoke.

“If I know people don’t accept [smoking] that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hang out with them,” said Walden. “It just means they don’t do something I do.”

Senior Eric Hansen* shares Walden’s views. An athlete, he says doesn’t drink or do drugs, but doesn’t base his friendships on that.

“I see it as if it’s illegal it’s illegal for a reason so I don’t do it,” he said. “I don’t believe in the whole ‘I’m holier than you’ aspect on life so I don’t judge people based of what they do I just don’t partake in it. So if I’m invited to a party I always volunteer to be the designated driver.”

***CONSEQUENCES***

The outcomes of smoking aren’t that simple. Although Walden boasts that she’s never gotten caught, others aren’t so lucky.

Junior Allan Nichols* has been smoking since he tried pot in a friend’s backyard in seventh grade.

“It’s just fun,” he said matter-of-factly. “After awhile it just became a habit.”

That fun came crashing down one summer night four months ago when Nichols’s mom caught him and his sister smoking pot in a park near their house.

“She drove past us and saw it, she says she could smell it,” said Nichols. “After that, we came home and we had a big argument about it because I’ve been smoking since middle school. For me, it was a long time coming. She made a big deal about it.”
Nichols says his mom is slowly getting used to the idea of him smoking, but has yet to completely accept it.

“She doesn’t trust me as much, but at the same time we’re working on it,” he said. “She still worries about me doing it. If she knows that [when] I come home [that] I’ve done it she’ll be mad.”

Despite that, Nichols says his mom has yet to sway his opinions.

“It’s been [hard], but I still smoke.”

***ENDINGS***

On election day, Florida voters will decide on the fate of Amendment 2, which would legalize some marijuana for restricted medical use. Students like Winters, Walden, and Nichols, all who say they support medical marijuana, hope for a victory.

Amendment 2 won’t help them, won’t legalize their after-school hits or games of ‘Bottle Bong.’ But it’d be a change, a step into undoing the stigmas that outlawing pot creates.

“The way it comes across in the media is that only losers do it, and that’s not true,” said senior Chloe Harrison*, who also smokes weed. “Just because I’m a teenager doesn’t mean I’m a scrub junkie.”

Until the views change, though, they’re happy to sit back in the shadows and wait.

Breaking laws for the sake of their high is nothing new.

Whether it’s worth it, only time will tell.