Living The High Life

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. 41 percent of students say they have used marijuana despite negative side effects linked to the drug and students are beginning to compare smoking weed to drinking beer or smoking cigarettes, causing the illegal substance to become more accepted in the residential community, several students said.
    Marijuana or THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) as those who know it best, is rapidly becoming the most popular substance in use. Only tobacco and alcohol rival it on Vanderbilt's campus, and according to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 37 percent of Americans have tried it.

    The drug, which travels to the bloodstream and attaches to cannabinoid nerve cells in the brain, has the most dramatic effects on coordinated movement, memory, learning, sensory and time perception and pleasure, since the cannabinoid receptors are most prevalent in those regions of the brain.

    Over 41 percent of Vanderbilt students say they have used the drug before, 18 percent in the last month, according to the Core Survey.

    “Weed's no different than alcohol or like, cigarettes,” said one student. “If a chain (tobacco) smoker told me that weed was bad for me, that I should quit, I'd laugh in his face.”

    And so goes the typical response. Many people speak of a ‘culture of acceptance' in modern society, to such an extent that some wonder if there is a difference between weed and other legal substances.

    “I think there are pockets of people on campus who are very accepting of marijuana use,” said Director of Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drug Prevention Jeanine Atkinson. “It has the reputation of being a very mellow drug, and by appearance alone, no one sees the problem.”

    Those problems, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, range from loss of cognitive skills to increased risk of lung cancer and heart attacks, and as some experts have begun to stress, this is not your parents' pot.

    THC content in commercial-grade marijuana has risen by 50 percent, from an average of 3.71 percent in 1985 to 5.57 percent in 1998. Higher concentrations of THC can make psychotic and other reactions to marijuana more likely, according to the NCASA.

    But all of that seems just window dressing for users, who say the medical concerns come last.

    “Being high is like the ultimate chill where you don't have to worry about anything or anybody,” said a student. “You laugh at things you would never laugh at before, and you tend to notice things a lot more, which is why I like to get high before I go to a concert, because you can hear more in the music.”

    Vanderbilt “will impose disciplinary sanctions on students, ranging from a warning or reprimand, to disciplinary probation, suspension or expulsion and referral for state or federal prosecution, for violation of its alcohol and controlled substances policy,” according to the Student Code.

    But most students agree that there is little risk in smoking marijuana on campus, depending on how attentive a resident adviser is.

    “I smoked a joint once walking around campus,” said a student. “It was late, and I really didn't care, but no one else did either.”

    According to a user, the going rate at Vanderbilt is 50 bucks for an eighth of an ounce, or about enough to get a regular (once a day) user through a week.

    That may sound expensive, but many students say they spend twice that amount weekly on alcohol; unlike alcohol, though, weed just leaves you hungry, not hung over.

    As for where it comes from, most students don't need to look farther than a few doors down.

    “My freshman year, there were three guys dealing it on the same floor,” said one student. “It's not hard to find, even if you're not looking.”

    Also unlike alcohol, though, marijuana can stay in your system for weeks, or even longer, and smokers may be feeling the effects without knowing it.

    “It's hard for a marijuana user to see the negatives because their brain is impaired all the time,” Atkinson said. “THC accumulates in the lipid lining in your body, and the more you smoke, the more builds up-it's so slow to leave the body.

    And though a typical ‘high' will last no more than an hour or two, there's no guarantee that THC won't show up on a drug test a good month later, Atkinson said.

    There is hardly a general opinion on marijuana in the medical community right now, but many doctors see benefits only for the most ill of patients.

    According to the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy could reap considerable benefits from the drug, while at the same time increasing their risks of mental disorders, pulmonary infections and decreasing their immune system response in general.

    And though the chances that any students at Vandy use THC for medical reasons, the likelihood that they will be affected is no less real, Atkinson said.

    “We haven't studied all the chemicals (over 400) in marijuana, and we still don't know exactly what's going on in there,” she said. “It's a pretty complicated drug.”

    With marijuana use so widespread on campus, though, many say getting high has already become just another part of their college lives - and they don't see a reason to give it up.

    “I get high after all my work is done,” said one student. “I mean, I would never go to class high - I try to keep school separate from all that.”

    Source: Vanderbilt Hustler, The (TN Edu)
    Author: Ben Sweet
    Published: April 23, 2004
    Copyright: 2004 The Vanderbilt Hustler

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