Weed on campus and making sense of it all


Medical marijuana cigarettes are hand-rolled at the All American Cannabis Club, aka A2C2, a medical marijuana collective, in San Jose, Calif., on August 20, 2014. The Golden State, with its already outsize medical-pot market, could soon be entering a Golden Era of commercialized cannabis. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group/MCT)

Payton Moore

November 2015 may come as a monumental win for weed activists in Ohio. If supporters reach 305,000 signatures by July, voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana use for those over 21.

The bill contains the ability to obtain a medical marijuana card for minors with parental consent and for adults over 21 to grow up to 24 marijuana plants for personal use. With Ohio being a crucial swing state, gaining the ability to buy and grow weed may set the pace for states across the U.S. 

ResponsibleOhio, an investor and promoter for the legalization of marijuana, predicted Ohioans would annually purchase more than $2.2 billion in legal marijuana by 2020 — around the time where the marijuana market stabilizes. To break it down, that’s $271 for every resident older than 21 who could legally purchase it, according to a Gannett Ohio analysis.

That number includes college students, as people across the nation are choosing marijuana, making it the drug of choice (behind alcohol).

From a study by the University of Michigan, marijuana use in college students reached an all-time high in 2013 with 1 in 20 sparking up daily. The number is up 3.5 percent just from 2007.

On Kent State’s campus, marijuana is an illicit drug of choice — out of five students asked in this article, two admitted to selling marijuana at some point on or near campus. These students’ names have been changed for confidentiality.

Alyssa, a freshman fashion merchandising major at Kent State, sold marijuana to mostly people she knew to widen social groups and meet more people.

“It was nice to know my friends who smoked were getting it from a safe source and that they weren’t smoking anything laced or putting themselves in bad situations to obtain it. Especially for women, trying to obtain marijuana from random people or at parties can be a really dangerous gamble, so that was a big plus for me,” Alyssa said. “I also sold more at market price, as opposed to upcharging, so it wasn’t really about the money, just the social opportunity.” 

However, the chance of Alyssa getting caught was eventually enough to get her to quit selling weed. At Kent State, the illegal possession, sale, production or use of any drug paraphernalia or drugs (including marijuana) or contribution to such use by others is in strict violation of university rules and state and federal laws, according to Kent State’s handbook.

“Eventually, I felt the risk was too much greater than the reward and decided to get out while I was ahead,” Alyssa said.

In a similar situation, senior integrated health studies major Sidney worked as a middleman for the sale of marijuana to friends and acquaintances. She said she doesn’t enjoy the feeling of getting high so she does not smoke regularly, but her friends are among those who smoke daily.

“I can see the benefits for a lot of them; they often feel less anxious and more relaxed after smoking,” Sidney said. “I believe getting high is a better option for most of them because they have a lot more self control.” 

Police in Kent work to control the weed distribution and ownership, but Sidney said she still believes it to be fairly easy to buy and sell marijuana on or near campus. 

“There’s an extremely large amount of people, especially college-aged kids, who smoke, so the demand is pretty much always there,” Sidney said.

Ricky, a sophomore business management major, said he was smoking two to three times a day last semester and has cut back for this spring. However, Ricky admitted to know around eight to 10 people who sell marijuana.

Some students believe marijuana to be a safer choice than drinking alcohol, which is legal on some parts of campus if students are of age. However, all students interviewed said they believed alcohol to be a more detrimental drug, with students more likely to lose control than those smoking marijuana.

Alyssa said she believes that alcohol also creates a higher dependency rate for many students, thus resulting in alcohol poisoning and severe depression.

“Alcohol interacts more dangerously with other drugs, even simple antibiotics, and can cause horrible side effects for unsuspecting young people,” Alyssa said. “There is very little proven benefit to drinking, except for a few studies that say occasional drinking may benefit cardiovascular health.”

Ricky agreed with Alyssa, saying that the highs of smoking trump the side effects of drinking alcohol.

 “I think it’s a good way to relax your body and mind from any stress you have going on… Another good thing about it is that there is absolutely no hangover or negative side effects the next day,” Ricky said. “Probably the best benefit of all is that food could not taste any better than when you’re high.” 

What many students fail to realize, however, are the negative side effects of smoking marijuana. According to the University of Maryland’s study done on college students avidly smoking marijuana, the drug is linked to decreased in academic retention, attendance and performance.

Smoking regularly can also stunt the growth of the brain and reduce the functionality of your memory and quick decision-making skills. It also has serious health effects that include breathing problems, increased heart rate and issues with child development during and after pregnancy.

Alyssa said she recognized these issues and compared the downsides to smoking to those of drinking alcohol regularly.

“I’ve never seen a high person go into a violent rage, or beat their significant other, or assault a woman at a party. Alcohol is a depressant; it causes severe mood alteration…,” Alyssa said. “There was actually a recent study done at Yale that shows that marijuana use is linked with a lower rate of domestic violence in married couples. It has also been proven to help people struggling to eat on chemotherapy, severe anxiety and countless gastrointestinal disorders.” 

Fast forward to November 2015: Pretend the bill passed, allowing use of recreational marijuana — will this really change anything about Kent State’s weed culture?

“I would totally support the legalization of marijuana in Ohio even though I rarely smoke,” Sidney said.

Sidney also said what many people believe may come from legalizing marijuana: an actual decrease in use among underage people.

“I feel like a major reason some people smoke from time to time is to break the rules,” Sidney said. “If marijuana was legal, I think it may lose some of its appeal to people. Regardless, the people who truly love smoking right now are going to continue smoking whether it’s legal or not.”

Contact Payton Moore at [email protected].