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Marijuana U

Habitual marijuana use seems to be becoming the norm on many college campuses, as our society’s perceptions regarding the cannabis culture continue to change.

According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, marijuana use among college students is at its highest in more than three decades.

Marijuana’s rising acceptance in the media has had an impact on the way many college students view this drug.

“I think that the media has influences on all aspects of our lives,” said Shannon Franklin, a CSUN University Counseling Services therapist. “I think having that system that is surrounding us, telling us what is good and what is bad can definitely influence what a student thinks is appropriate for them.”

The last few years have seen a dramatic shift in the public’s attitude towards legalizing marijuana, and marijuana has become an alternative treatment for individuals with physical ailments such as cancer and other illnesses.

Marijuana’s popularity among college students is also due to its potential psychological benefits. When the pressure of college becomes too much to handle, some student may turn to marijuana as a way of dealing with feelings of anxiety or stress.

“I do see students who come in [for counseling], who are stressed, anxious, depressed,” Franklin said. “They might have tried marijuana to manage those symptoms, [but] the thing I’m really concerned about is why [they turned] to marijuana. Why was it interesting to them and how were they trying to reduce their symptoms? Were they trying to feel more calm? Were they trying to get away from their problems?”

Many college students may be unaware that smoking weed is potentially harmful for them. It can affect the brain’s development if it has not yet fully matured.

“Our pre-frontal cortex develops until we’re the age of 26,” Franklin said. “What that regulates, is your ability to make decisions and decide whether something is good for you.”

Marijuana can also have a negative impact on a college student’s academic performance, if it’s used inappropriately, such as in class or while studying.

“I think that being under the influence of anything will definitely alter your focus,” said Margaret Spryzynski, a Registered Nurse.

“If you smoke right before class, you’re not going to be able to concentrate as well,” Franklin said. “You might experience some symptoms of paranoia, [and when you’re] focused on what other people are thinking, [you are not] able to retain the memories that you need.”

A rise in daily marijuana use among college students could also be due to its accessibility, and that accessibility may be making it as popular as prescription drugs. But medical experts warn there are risks involved with replacing prescription medication with weed.

“From a medical perspective, I don’t think that marijuana is a good alternative for prescription medications because you have to look at why they need it,” Spryzynski said. “There are so many medications that we have, that marijuana should never be your first line of treatment.”

“Weed definitely has side effects such as withdrawals,” Franklin said. “You can be diagnosed with a cannabis addiction, and those are the things I keep my eyes open for.”

The American College Health Association conducts a survey every year to determine students’ habits and behaviors. The 2014 study reported that 37 percent of CSUN students said that they have tried marijuana at least once. It also found that only 15 percent of CSUN students said they smoked marijuana on a more regular basis or within the last 30 days.

“This is part of human nature and social norms,” Franklin said. “What we think everybody is doing isn’t necessarily what they’re actually doing.”

“Marijuana can be a quick fix for some people, but I want to work on skills you can take into your adulthood,” Franklin said. “[That way] you can figure out what to do when you’re stressed, and what to do when you’re anxious. Students can come over to the University Counseling Services, and meet with one of us, and have that conversation and that attention, and get the knowledge that they need.”

Moderator: Jon Gripe

Anchor: Daisy Lightfoot

Producer: Andrew Pitters

Reporters: Jon Gripe and Ashley Horton

Social Media Editor: Sarina Sandoval

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