Alex Sumption Mrs. PodollSenior EnglishJanuary 30, 2018Marijuana In SportsAthletes in every sport that have been caught using drugs on the banned substance list. Performance enhancing drugs are banned from sports and it should be kept that way. But there are some drugs on the banned substance list that are not performance enhancing. One of these drugs is marijuana. Marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug and it could be a major benefit for athletes in need. Athletes that use performance enhancing drugs, most of the time, only see the short term advantages it has on them, but long term effects include depression, suicidal thoughts, and with a lot of abuse there may be liver, kidney, and heart failure, none of these come with the use of marijuana. Society sees most drugs are wrong and consider it cheating. If an athlete is doing things that people have not seen in a long time, opposing fans start to get suspicious of drugs being used. In today’s society, using a banned substance is considered cheating but if an athlete is using marijuana, since it is not performance enhancing, it really is not cheating.Using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs is dangerous, it has been proven. But is marijuana dangerous? Even though drugs have made the athletes better, it has ruined sportsmanship and respect for the athlete’s body. This, along with the use of drugs in sports is a problem and people are using it as a topic for them to share their opinion. Athletes are being forced to find other ways to relax after a tough game or relax after a bad injury because marijuana is on the list. At first, nobody knew if marijuana actually made you that much of a better athlete, but everyone knew that steroids and other performance enhancing drugs were an advantage and could make the athlete better. When Mark McGwire admitted to using PED’s during his amazing season and it became a drug that everyone wanted to have. This just shows the difference between PED’s and marijuana. PED’s have a positive effect on the performance of an athlete but if an athlete were to use marijuana, there would not be a noticeable difference in performance. There are not many risky side effects of marijuana, creating more controversy on whether it should be on the list.  On the other hand, the risky side effects of performance-enhancing drugs should be known and are very dangerous. In the article “Steroids are Dangerous,” it says “even though steroid use may increase an athlete’s endurance and muscle growth, it also has many risky side effects. Anabolic steroids are made in many forms that can be taken orally, injected, or rubbed into the skin” (NIDA). He also says, “steroids have many serious physical and psychological consequences. They can cause cancer and strokes, stunt bone growth, and lead to aggression” (NIDA). They also can make a person feel like they can do anything which can lead them to getting hurt. It can also make them think they have a “macho behavior, and sometimes, attacks of rage or psychosis” (NIDA). None of these negative side effects come with the use of marijuana. Guys can also have reduced sperm count, shrunken testicles, unable achieve an erection, and sometimes grow breasts. Women can get deep voices and excessive body hair. “Steroid abuse has been associated with liver tumors and a rare condition called peliosis hepatis, in which blood-filled cysts form in the liver. Both the tumors and the cysts can rupture, causing internal bleeding. Steroid abuse can also cause acne, cysts, and oily hair and skin” (Volkow). The NIDA says that the more serious life-threatening effects of steroid abuse are heart attacks, strokes, and liver cancer. None of these side effects come with marijuana which is another reason that marijuana should be taken of the list. The side effects of marijuana are very minor. They include, impaired judgement, lung irritation, vomiting, increased heart rate, and temporary paranoia. The side effects of marijuana are no worse than the side effects of alcohol. Depression and addiction are other issues that these drugs can cause including marijuana. Marijuana can be addicting but only for some. It can very well be helpful for athletes that know that they need it, not just want it. Also,  injecting steroids with needles is risk of HIV and infections which causes more debate because marijuana is not injected. “Case reports and small studies indicate that anabolic steroids, when used in high doses, increase irritability and aggression. Some steroid abusers report that they have committed aggressive acts, such as physical fighting or armed robbery, theft, vandalism, or burglary” (Volkow). People who have committed aggressive acts or property crimes usually report that they did this more often when they take steroids than when they are drug free. Steroid side effects are usually know for roid rages. Marijuana side effects are relaxation, not rage. One of the main questions today is, why are athletes today more athletic than they used to be? Some people say it’s because many athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs to become better but nobody says that athletes are using marijuana to become better. David Epstein says that athletes go to great lengths in order to succeed. He also says that “one great length is the use of performance-enhancing drugs.” (Epstein). When athletes cannot compete with their competition, they cheat and use drugs. Epstein also talks about how athletes are doing everything faster, stronger, and just better. Marijuana is not one of the drugs that he is talking about. Marijuana is not the reason for success. Marijuana helps relax and release stress, leading to better performance by not cheating. He says that if the 1936, 100 meter dash champion and world record holder, Jesse Owens, raced against todays 100 meter dash record holder, Usain Bolt, Usain would win by about 14 feet. He also says, “in 1954, Sir Roger Bannister became the first man to run under four minutes in the mile. Nowadays, college kids do that every year and on rare occasions, a high school kid does it” (Epstein). This just truly shows how humans have developed from drugs enhancing. Once one athlete uses them, another athlete will use them to compete with the other athletes that took them. This would not happen with marijuana because there is not a noticeable difference in performance and a lot of time there is not even a difference. Saying an athlete will see tremendous jumps in performance from marijuana is like saying that athletes will see jumps in performance from alcohol. Marijuana is a stimulant to relax and forget about the bad things in life, just like alcohol in some situations.There are questions why nobody is focusing on drugs in high school and lower levels.  “According to a survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2.7 percent of eighth- and tenth-graders and 2.9 percent of twelfth-graders admitted they had taken steroids at least once” (Global Sports). According to Drug Abuse,  Among 12th graders, 6 percent continue to report daily use, which corresponds to about 1 in 16 high school seniors (NIDA). The use of PED’s are harmful and can lead to terrible turnouts for athletes, especially for high school athletes. Marijuana is illegal for high school student athletes because they are not old enough, even if it was legal. But let’s be real, there are a lot of high school athletes that are using marijuana and there is no preventing it. Once steroids are used for years, the person using them tries to quit and be drug free. This can lead to depression and use of illegal drugs. In Efrain Anthony Marrero’s case, this did not end good for him and his family.  “Approximately three weeks before his death, Efrain told us he had been using steroids. Because he trusted his parents he gave us the Dianabol pills, a vial of steroids, and two syringes and needles. Efrain was afraid something terribly wrong was happening to him. He was having episodes of paranoia and deep depression. He told us that during one of his college classes he felt people were looking at him and laughing. Until this conversation, the idea of our son using steroids had never crossed our minds” (Drug Free). Efrain quit using steroids and three weeks later, he killed himself, and his family was absolutely certain that the deep depression came from withdrawal from steroid use that led him to kill himself. Efrain was only 19. There are more problems that can come from steroids and quitting the addiction of them. This story shows how severe PED’s are but also show the major difference in PED’s and marijuana. Marijuana withdrawal include, sweating, fatigue, anger, nervousness, and depression. None of these are as bad as PED’s. Athletes should just ask themselves, do we really want to harm our bodies and ruin the thought of hard work and putting the time into being good? “Many people support the idea that the use of performance-enhancing drugs weakens the integrity of sports” (Crouse). The athletes that use performance enhancing drugs only see the short term advantages it has on them but there are little long term effects.  Marijuana has little to none long term effects, none are as severe as PED’s.  Marijuana is not a performance enhancing drug and it could be a major benefit for athletes in need. The side effects of PED’s include depression, suicidal thoughts, and with a lot of abuse there may be liver, kidney, and heart failure. Performance enhancing drugs are banned from sports and it should be kept that way but marijuana should be taken off the list because they are not performance enhancing. Overall, PED’s and marijuana have a major difference and one of the so called “harmful” drugs should not be on the list any longer.