With an increasing number of states embracing the legalization of marijuana, mostly for medical purposes, the push for recreational approval in states such as New York continues to grow. Approximately 5.9 percent of American college students reported daily or near-daily marijuana use in a 2014 study conducted by the University of Michigan research group Monitoring the Future, as referenced by a recent USA Today article.

That percentage — translating to 1-in-17 college students who smoke marijuana at least 20 times each month — marks the highest rate since 1980, the first year that complete college data on this topic was made available.

According to a PBS article, written in conjunction with the organization Drug Free America, marijuana consumption can have adverse effects.

“Attention, memory and learning are impaired among heavy marijuana users, even after users discontinued its use for at least 24 hours,” the article said.

Side effects may also include impaired memory for recent events, difficulty concentrating, dream-like states, impaired motor coordination, impaired driving and other psychomotor skills, slowed reaction time, impaired goal-directed mental activity and altered peripheral vision.

Plattsburgh State accounting major Kevin Mcglynn, who is currently taking a business law class that requires understanding of advanced vocabulary, explained that his marijuana use doesn’t impede his learning.

“I have a pretty good focus,” Mcglynn said. “I’m not going to smoke when I have accounting. It’s for recreational use. If I have a headache and a lot on my mind, I smoke and go back to sleep.”

Although he uses marijuana recreationally and as a sleep aid, Mcglynn said he has read about the potential side effects, and has noticed them himself.
“I’ve seen all the stuff on studies,” he said. “You might be a bit slow. I feel like I waste more time while stoned.”

Mcglynn also added that if he finds himself in a “bad situation” while under the influence, he may feel anxious or nervous.

PSUC public relations major Carissa Root agreed, saying that if she had plans to study or knew she had work to do she would not get high beforehand because it is harder to pay attention.

“They don’t call it being ‘high’ for nothing,” she said. “I don’t mix relaxation with school.”

Fellow PSUC student Thomas Blanchard said although he does not use marijuana, he is not usually able to notice a true difference between his friends’ behavior when they smoke compared to when they are sober.

“It’s about their intellectual level before they smoke that depends on their attention, memory and learning,” Blanchard said.

However, Blanchard said he couldn’t speculate whether his friends experienced impaired memory or difficulty concentrating while high.

“I think it’s the hard drugs that have already eaten away at their brain,” he said.

Blanchard also said he has noticed that people who do “dabs,” which is a highly concentrated form of THC, the chemical found in marijuana, tend to space out more than other marijuana users.

According to the aforementioned PBS article, a survey of 150 college students who were high on marijuana during the interviewing process found that 59 percent forgot the premise of a conversation before it ended. Forty-one percent also noted they remember less when reading while stoned.

“When my friends and I are together,” Root said, “I’m sure there’s some stories that get lost.”

Though the conversation on national marijuana legalization is picking up speed, it is important to remember recreational use is still illegal in most states, including New York and can be traced to long-term, negative health problems.

A Forbes magazine article reported “acute effects mainly include anxiety, paranoia (especially among new users), dysphoria, cognitive impairment, and psychotic symptoms (especially in people with a family history of psychosis). These particular side effects seem to have risen over the last 20 years, which may be due to the fact that the THC content in marijuana has also risen over time.” In addition, the study found that nearly 10 percent of all marijuana users can become addicted.

PSUC students who would like to learn more about this topic or wish to seek assistance should go to the Student Health Center, or schedule a time to visit the Alcohol and Other Drugs Services office, located in the Student Involvement Center on the first floor of the Angell College Center.

For more information about PSUC’s AOD services, contact Janis Krug, PSUC’s AOD Educator.

Email Patrick Willisch at patrick.willisch@cardinalpointsonline.com

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