Aug 19, 2020 in Personal

The Use of Marijuana in Asian and American Society
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I remember when I was 14 and decided to come to the United States to further my education, my friends from home and some of my family members were afraid that I would start using marijuana. I come from an Asian family which has a negative impression about the use of marijuana. It always happens that when I go back from school during the holidays, they always come up to me asking whether I have changed my opinion about the use of marijuana. One day I told them how in school and the American society using marijuana is not a big deal and my best friend warned me that I should not fall into the temptation since he considered using marijuana a sign of a lost soul. The majority of Chinese believe that there is no difference between marijuana and other narcotics like heroine. As a result, they are against the use of marijuana. My experience of the American and Chinese cultures in relation to marijuana introduced me to how two cultures have differed perspectives over similar issues. There is a big difference on how the two societies handle the use of marijuana and it was challenging for me to integrate the two different cultures. Through participant-observation and interview, I gain a lot of understanding between the two cultures and gradually changed my perspective of towards marijuana 

Participant-Observation

Joining an American school and meeting new classmates from different backgrounds brought new experiences that were both amazing. I got to learn new thing and made a lot of discoveries. While in school, I noticed that several students had a habit of smoking marijuana and I got fascinated and decided to observe them and study their behaviors. I wanted to have a firsthand experience of what people who smoke marijuana behave and conduct themselves. At first, it was my awn prejudice about people who smoke marijuana that drove me to study the smokers since I expected to watch them get mad or develop other abnormalities I had been told marijuana causes. In the course of my observation, my study turned from subjective objective.  I noticed most of the students who used marijuana had the tag “cool kids” and held parties almost every weekend. I, therefore, started attending parties to associate with the students and observe their way of partying and whether they used marijuana and the effect of marijuana.  I observed that at least one in three students in the party used marijuana. Most of the students who were attending the parties were 19 to 22 years and upon interacting with them, they said they did not see it dangerous to use marijuana. Back in the school environment, based on my estimates from the parties, I estimated that at least one in every 15 students is using marijuana on a daily basis. There was no bad behavioral change as I expected, remembering the warnings I had from my family members. From the observations, I noticed that after smoking marijuana the students become more energetic and active and in a happy mood. Over the past years, I have noticed that the number of students using marijuana is increasing and even teens in high school have started using marijuana for recreation. Similar observations have been made by research and media reports. According to Rettner in 2015, the level of marijuana consumption in American colleges reached its highest level ever in 30 years. The increased permissiveness of the society brought about by the legalization of marijuana is likely to increase the consumption levels further in the coming years.

 

The America society and culture are totally different to what I experienced in China. Celebrities and foreigners are not treated any different if caught with e drug-related offenses, they receive the same penalties like any other ordinary citizens in China. Cases been reported of artists from Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong in Chinese prisons for smoking marijuana and some have lost their music or acting career after tarnishing their names. For instance, in 2014, China Central Television aired the story Jaycee Chan, Chinese actor, and singer got apprehended for possession and consumption of marijuana which is an illicit drug in. The arrest caused an enormous fuss and subsequently got ranked among the highest profile drug in history. Drug possession and consumption remains an executable offense in China where marijuana is still classified as a narcotic.

In America, I observed that there is a vast majority of famous people who smoke marijuana publicly in their music videos or during a movie shooting. Most famous peoples such as artists and writers abuse drugs for different reasons; some are related to personal stresses while others suffer from mental illness. Some artists use marijuana to boost their creativity and performances. Lady Gaga admitted to the USA Today, that she uses marijuana to boost her performance and creativity when writing her songs. In the interview, she discourages the young kids not to use marijuana for recreational use because there are consequences.  She explains that people who begin using marijuana at a tender age are at a higher risk of developing neuropsychiatric health problems compared to the ones who use marijuana after reaching their adulthood. One may end up becoming an addict and there is a possibility of death like it happened to known musicians such as Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston, she explains.

Interview

After observing my marijuana consuming friends for some time, I desired to know more about their interest in marijuana. On day, I noticed one of my close friend smoking marijuana and decided to interview her.  She was friendly during the party and I had the confident she would not let my invitation for an interview down. She agreed to do the interview since she was open to her using marijuana. During the interview, I asked her when she started using marijuana and who introduced her to using the substance. “I started smoking marijuana since I was 17.”  She said. “I was introduced to marijuana by a guy I was dating during his birthday party,” She added.  “We smoked a joint with him and ever since I smoke nearly on a daily basis. I loved the first experience and I did not feel like quitting.” I was concerned with whether the marijuana had affected her. “What risks or benefits if any have you experienced while smoking marijuana,” I asked. She laughs at first and continues “Marijuana opens my mind and emotions. I feel like it improves my creativity. Under the influence of weed, I write meaningful issues in my blogs and score higher in tests when is use marijuana, I think it boosts my memory too.”

“Some of my friends have warned me that, there is a possibility of developing neuropsychiatric problems such as schizophrenia and dropping of IQ levels due to the increased use of marijuana,” she adds, “but I have not experienced that yet or started to experience any of those,” I remember some of the reasons she was given against smoking marijuana are similar to the once I was given back home in China. It seems that while the knowledge about marijuana is scarce, the myths about its effects are universal. My friend has no obvious sign of smoking marijuana. “My grades have not dropped and it has been a while since I visited the hospital for any medical issues.” She says confidently and opines that many patients would benefit from medical marijuana it was legalized. She also pointed out that she used marijuana in preference to alcohol.

Autoethnography

In a close conversation with my uncle, he expressed his dislike for the use of marijuana. He thinks that marijuana is the main cause of moral degradation in Chinese society. According to him, most young people who indulge in marijuana use, end up making wrong decisions and being useless in the society. The young addicted people spend most of their time in smoking marijuana other than in concentrating on important things that can build the society for example jobs. He also mentioned that marijuana use is the main contributor to violence such as rape, theft among other crimes. Most of the teenagers, he mentioned, have dropped out of school to peddle and use marijuana. Jokingly, I asked him what he would do to me if he knew I was using marijuana. In his response, he indicated that he would disassociate in every way with me if I ever started using marijuana. I mentioned to him how some of my mates in America, use marijuana in the belief that it will help them in their studies and think that marijuana acts as a brain booster. He laughed it off saying that was silly and stated that the only brain booster he knew was the library.

My uncle’s sentiments reflect the sentiment of the Chinese including China laws enforcement officers and legislators. For instance in accordance with the Chinese laws, in 2009, 24 people were executed during International Anti-Drugs Day celebrations in China. The deputy secretary general of the National Narcotics Control Commission, Yang Fengrui, told Associated Press that drug trafficking was equivalent to killing people. Therefore, the execution was justified. Although the number of drug users is rising in China, Yang Fengrui stated that the government was always ready to deal with the drug users. There is a punishment of 5 years in jail maximum for those in possession of small quantities of marijuana while those who grow cannabis face 7 years.  People living in China receive a maximum penalty of life imprisonment sentence if they are caught in possession of large quantities of marijuana.  If an individual is arrested for trafficking marijuana, they pay a fine of approximately $1.2 million. 

The Chinese situation is totally different from the America scene. While the Chinese make laws to limit the use of marijuana many Americans make laws to permit the use of the drug. Currently, the legalization of marijuana is being advocated for in the United States and many states are legalizing the use of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes. Prominent musicians such as Snoop Dogg, Lady Gaga, and Tony Bennett among others have shared their view on USA Today on the legalization of marijuana. They advocate for the legalization of marijuana. Snoop even has his own brand of marijuana and claims the use of marijuana helps boost creativity.

Conclusion

The exposure to different cultures after interacting Asian and America cultures has changed my perception of the use of marijuana. Since coming to America, I have noted that the use of marijuana among the youths is common. The perception of risk from the use of marijuana is minimal. Similarly, I did not see any negative effects in the students who used marijuana. Upon questioning some, they said smoking marijuana improved their attitude and confidence and improved their concentration levels.  I might probably convince my uncle, best friend and other family members who have a bad impression on the use of marijuana since it is not as bad as they portray it to be. Apart from recreational use, marijuana important medical uses especially in relieve pain patients suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Use of marijuana also helps in reducing neuropathic pain and improve appetite in patients suffering from HIV.

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