By Taylor Gencarelli
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Rates of marijuana use are on the rise among college students all over the United States, leaving both students and faculty concerned about the possible long-lasting negative consequences.
“Being high or under the influence of marijuana mentally impairs you,” said Zanah Kahn, a student at Towson University, “so I am not sure why someone attending college and taking all of these hard classes would want to be mentally impaired for that. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Professor Timothy Penn of the TU Department of Mass Communication added that
extensive use of marijuana “can lead to a lack of motivation.”
About 43 percent of full-time college students admitted to some form of marijuana use in the past year, said a University of Michigan report that found use to be at the highest levels it’s ever been in more than 35 years.
College-age adults are the biggest users of marijuana than any other age-group, the report said. The use of marijuana has been linked to lowered levels of academic performance because its mind-altering chemical is responsible for most of the intoxicating effects its users seek, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Adding to the concerns is a University of Maryland study that found about 11 percent of college students said they vaped marijuana as well, more than double a 2017 finding.
Kahn said she’s heard stories of students who come back from a long day of class and “get high” for the rest of the day.
A total of 41 reports of marijuana-related incidents have occurred at Towson since the beginning of 2018, police department data showed. Violators were found with marijuana residue or paraphernalia in dorm rooms or campus apartments, the report said.
“It makes our jobs as RA’s a lot more difficult when our residents don’t follow the rules and violate our drug use policy,” said Melissa Fede, a newly appointed RA at Quinnipiac University. “Even though some states are legalizing medical marijuana, doesn’t mean you can just light up in your dorm room and smoke.”
At Kean University, there has been a total of 75 drug abuse violations, including marijuana possession, since 2015, data showed. Kean is in Union, N.J., where legislation has been proposed to legalize the possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana for people at least 21 years old, said investigative reporter Payton Guion of NJ Advance Media.
Maryland is one of 33 states that has legalized the medical use of marijuana. The recreational use of marijuana is illegal, however since 2014, the possession of 10 grams or less has been decriminalized.
The University of Maryland, College Park, recently added a graduate program in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics to enable students to learn the cultural history of medical cannabis use, explore how the federal law and policy relating to use of cannabis has evolved in the U.S,, officials said.
It is a two-year program operating at both College Park and UMD’s Shady Grove site in Rockville, Maryland. Assistant Professor Leah Sera of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy directs the program.
A recent study by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research found that occasional marijuana users were more likely to delay enrollment in or drop-out of post-secondary education, confirming fears that recreational marijuana use on college campuses is linked to lower academic performance.
Heavy marijuana use has been shown to affect working memory, learning, and information processing; functions that are needed for academic performance, according to an HHH Public Access journal article.
“I think the use of marijuana among college students doesn’t help if you’re doing it all the time,” Penn said. “It can lead to a lack of motivation but also limited use of it can be very mind-opening and lead to spiritual growth.”