Know the Facts: Marijuana
What do we know about marijuana?
While adult-use (recreational) marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, there is a lot to understand about the law:
- Recreational use is permitted only for those age 21 and older.
- Marijuana use is still prohibited by those under age 21.
- Adult use is permitted only in private residences. Some rentals may prohibit marijuana use. Public consumption of marijuana is still prohibited by those of any age.
- Having open marijuana in a vehicle is still prohibited.
- Driving under the influence is prohibited.
- Purchase and sale of marijuana is only permitted at licensed pot shops, by those age 21 and older.
Marijuana is still classified as an illegal substance at the federal level. As an institution that receives federal funding, Springfield College must follow federal law. Marijuana use is not permitted on campus. Paraphernalia – including pipes, grinders, and bongs – is also not permitted.
As a reminder, if you’re an athlete, the NCAA has rules about marijuana that still apply. If your academic program requires fieldwork, internships, or clinical hours, you may be subject to drug testing, which includes marijuana. Some off-campus jobs may also require drug testing.
Health and Academic Effects
THC is only one of more than 60 cannabinoids and more than 450 active constituents in marijuana. It acts on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, disrupting normal pathways of neural transmission.
Most of the short-term effects of marijuana last through the high, usually 1-3 hours. These effects include euphoria, relaxation, impaired short-term memory, altered perception of time, anxiety, increased heart rate, dizziness, and paranoia.
However, some of the effects on learning and memory, like impairments to the ability to learn, difficulty problem-solving, and impaired memory, can persist for more than 24 hours, so getting high on Saturday night might impact your performance in class on Monday.
Getting high also affects your motor coordination and perception of sights, sounds, time, and touch. This means that you're more likely to get into a car accident than if you were sober. If you use, you should definitely not drive.
Also, lowered inhibitions sometimes means poor decision-making. Some common things include unplanned and unprotected sex, doing things you'd never do sober, and relationship problems.
What about CBD?
CBD is another common cannabinoid found in cannabis. Unlike THC, it does not cause someone to feel high. To be legally sold as CBD, these products must contain <0.3% THC. Most CBD products are unregulated, so there is no great way to tell how much CBD (or THC) they contain. If you use CBD products, you may want to take a break if you need a drug screen.
Can you reduce your risk if you choose to use?
- Don’t smoke in your residence hall. We all know marijuana has a distinct smell (that isn’t fully masked by towels under doors or fans in the window), and this is a surefire way to get in trouble.
- Know your source. This helps ensure that you're familiar with the strength of your marijuana and that it's not laced or tainted with other drugs.
- Avoid mixing marijuana with alcohol or other drugs.
- Choose your method of use wisely. Smoking tends to be the easiest way to regulate your dose. Edibles and oils (including vape oils) can have very high THC concentrations and should only be used by experienced users. Start slow and gradually take more after waiting at least an hour.
- Take a break. You can build up a tolerance to marijuana, so if you find that you’re using more and more, take a couple weeks off.
- Don’t use and drive. Your risk of getting into an accident doubles if you’re high.
How much is too much?
If your use of marijuana starts to interfere with your academic success, physical performance, or social relationships, you should think about cutting down or taking a break. Also, if you find that you don't have other stress relief mechanisms or aren't getting involved in other activities, you might want to reassess your use.
If one of your friends is using marijuana, you probably already know if they are showing signs of a problem. Don't blow it off. If you're concerned, there is a good reason you feel that way.