MARIA GARCIA and KARLA MARTINEZ/Coachella Uninc
COACHELLA — Alicia Sanchez* lived in fear that her mother would discover her problems with marijuana.
“If I (were) to tell her the truth,” explains the 15-year-old, “we would have had a huge fight.”
There was enough tension in the Sanchez household, due to her mother’s work schedule and her unstable relationship, without adding a teen drug problem to the mix. The last thing Sanchez wanted to do was hurt her family.
But she couldn’t keep her secret forever. She was suspended after being caught smoking marijuana at school. Her mother’s threat of drug testing her has kept her from using the drug.
“My idea (now) would be to tell them my experience and have a mature talk with (my family) about… the bad outcomes of smoking marijuana,” says Sanchez.
Is Legalization the Answer?
David Lopez,*15, saw his brother’s life turned upside down due to a drug bust in school. While Lopez has never done drugs himself, he says that smoking marijuana is part of the culture for his brother and his friends.
“It’s messed up my brother,” he says. “Putting him in trouble with police.”
His brother ended up being kicked out of school.
If marijuana were legal, Lopez believes his brother would have faced fewer legal consequences and caused less problems for his family.
“There’d be fewer problems (for) me and my family,” he says. “Having it legalized would (make) it easier.”
Mariela Alvarez,* 17, worries that if legalized, more people she loves will fall under the influence of marijuana. She has witnessed the destructive power of the drug up close.
“It’s hard, you know you’re supposed to love and care for them (family member) but after all the harm they’ve done to us and our family because of the drugs, it’s hard to decide whether we should keep helping that person or not.”
The legal status of marijuana does not matter for teens, like Sanchez, with access to a medical marijuana card. A family friend with a marijuana card introduced her to the drug.
“I had no clue of the consequences that could come from smoking, I wasn’t thinking. Next thing you know you’re addicted, and you’re barely fifteen,” she says.
“I wish someone would’ve convinced me to stop smoking. I know firsthand it’s not a pretty road to go down on.”
*names have been to protect the minors in this story