School Daze

Pot use skyrockets on college campuses

Purple Haze, Maui Waui and Strawberry Cough are in. Marlboro, Lucky Strike and Camel are out.

On the nation’s college campuses, the number of students smoking pot each day is significantly higher, while daily cigarette smoking is declining. A new study by the University of Michigan shows a dramatic increase in marijuana use among U.S. college students during the past eight years.

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Marijuana’s gain in popularity may be due to a widespread notion that it’s harmless, researchers say. The study found that American high school graduates aged 19 to 22 who considered marijuana harmful fell from 55 percent in 2006 to 35 percent in 2014.

Purple Haze, Maui Waui and Strawberry Cough are in. Marlboro, Lucky Strike, and Camel are out.

“It’s clear that for the past seven or eight years there has been an increase in marijuana use among the nation’s college students,” study leader Lloyd Johnston, a research professor at the University of Michigan, said in a statement. “This largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors.”

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The study, “Monitoring the Future,” which has followed trends on college campuses for 41 years, found that the number of U.S. college students smoking marijuana daily, or nearly every day, is greater than it has been in 35 years. The percentage of college students using any type of illegal drug also increased to 41 percent in 2014, up from 34 percent in 2006. The study found the overall drug use increase has been driven by the increase in marijuana use.

Dorm Stoner
“The MOST important thing to keep in mind when you are a ‘Dorm Stoner’ is to control odor,” The Weed blog warned in its 2010 post “Tips For Consuming Marijuana in Your Dorm Room.”

“One of the most important parts about being a ‘Dorm Stoner’ is hiding your stash,” the website reported, adding, “Fans are a must if you are going to be a ‘Dorm Stoner.’”

The number of U.S. college students smoking marijuana daily, or nearly every day, is greater than it has been in 35 years.

While attitudes are about marijuana are changing, this isn’t your parents’ pot. A largely dismissive cultural attitude about marijuana use can be explained in large part by today’s adults’ nostalgia for the less-potent pot of the 1970s and 1980s. Smoking a joint or two back then brought a mild buzz. Today’s marijuana is three to five times stronger.

Research continues to reveal that long-term, heavy use of today’s marijuana has been linked to panic disorder, psychosis and depression, according to Harvard Medical School. Marijuana also has been shown to bring on anxiety disorders, which are becoming more prevalent, and are the most-reported psychological problems among college students.

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Harvard reported most of the research on marijuana is based on people who smoked the drug for recreational rather than medical purposes. Even the American Medical Association has urged the federal government to reconsider its classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance (prohibiting both medical and recreational use), so researchers could more easily conduct clinical trials.

High on College
Claire Chiara, a senior at University of California, Berkeley, concurred with the study results. She said students consider pot less harmful than cigarettes.

“It’s definitely a mainstream drug,” Chiara said in an interview with LifeZette. “Marijuana’s impact has been watered down. It’s easily accessible, and everyone knows the medical marijuana card is a joke.”

Chiara said pot is everywhere on campus, because some students “think it improves their focus, and relieves their stress.”

“But they are not aware of what long-term use does to their bodies and minds,” Chiara said. “And, I’ve read that the smoke from marijuana is something like three-times as bad for you as cigarette smoking.”

For the entire first two decades of their lives, college-age students were repeatedly told by their elementary and high school teachers how awful and terrible cigarettes are, Chiara said.

“It was drilled into us. Ironically, after all these years of telling us about the damage to our bodies from cigarettes, and society now thinks it’s OK for young people to smoke marijuana daily?”

“Less than half of American teens perceive a ‘great risk’ in smoking marijuana once or twice a week.”

“At an elite school like Berkeley, it’s shocking to think that students would willingly use a mind-altering drug,” Chiara said. “It makes them lazy and stupid. I think that students would be embarrassed to say ‘I need a couple of shots [of alcohol] in the morning,’ but that’s what they are doing with marijuana.”

Motive Behind the Smoke Screen
“Because of the new Big Marijuana industry selling pot as harmless, most young people aren’t getting that message — less than half of American teens perceive a ‘great risk’ in smoking marijuana once or twice a week,” Kevin Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute, said in an interview with LifeZette. “Yet, research shows that teens who smoke marijuana once a week over a two-year period are almost six times more likely than nonsmokers to drop out of school and over three times less likely to enter college.”

Sabet said despite the evidence that smoking tobacco was correlated with higher rates of lung cancer, “Big Tobacco lobbyists would argue that causation and correlation are not equivalent.”

“They used this as a lobbying tool to dismiss mounting scientific evidence for more than 40 years, and it seems that marijuana proponents are using their predecessor’s technique,” Sabet said. “Strong correlations exist between cannabis use and schizophrenia incidence, especially those in a dose-dependent fashion, and this should give us all pause as we grapple with an already out-of-control mental illness crisis.”

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“It is in Big Marijuana’s interest to downplay risks of heavy pot use,” Sabet said. “After all, they are raking in big bucks from their new-found industry. And just like other addictive industries, their profits derive mainly from heavy, regular users.

“If you want to know why legalization has become such a hot-button issue in the past five years, you need only follow the money,” Sabet said.

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