Why weed? The reasoning behind the decision to use

Category:  News
Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 at 6:51 AM
Why weed? The reasoning behind the decision to use  by Tracy Geibel
According to a survey done in one professor’s class, about half the students had tried marijuana.

Dr. Scott Crowell, professor from the health and physical education department, starts each semester in his drug and alcohol discussion classes in a unique way.

He gives students an anonymous survey asking about their use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs. Typically, the survey shows that about 90 percent of the students have drank alcohol despite many being underage, and about half the students usually actively smoke marijuana, which is illegal for anyone at any age in Pennsylvania.

“Every time I ask the same questions,” Crowell said. “[I ask] did they start smoking more in college, and the answer is yes.”

“As we can imagine, the availability is here, and the lack of accountability many times with family members and parents of course may cause that as well.”

A sophomore at Edinboro, who wished to remain anonymous, began smoking weed with his roommates during his first semester on campus. His roommate asked him several times about going. The student said, “no,” at first, but then, after a while, he gave in.

He didn’t know how to smoke the first time. Most people “don’t get high” when they first try it, he said, but the second time, the marijuana had an effect.

He never smoked it in high school though, and when he goes home for winter and summer breaks, he doesn’t use it.

“I knew about weed and I could have very well done it plenty of times,” he said.

Yet, he never did. A year later, he moved into a new room with new roommates, three new people that he didn’t know. This time he brought up the topic. His roommates had smoked previously, so they spent about a week finding someone to buy it from.

He didn’t use it very frequently when he first began and still doesn’t. More so, he has never done it on his own.

His parents don’t know that he uses it, and while it’s something he jokes around about with his mother, he doesn’t want them to know.

“I feel like my dad would probably kick my [expletive] ...or he might just be like, ‘you’re a dumb [expletive], but just so long as you don’t get in trouble.’”

Over a year after beginning to smoke marijuana, his reasoning for doing so is the same as the first time he smoked, saying, “I don’t know, like why not?”

“It’s just a nice day-capper, like you come home, and you do it, and you just relax.”

A freshman student, who also will remain anonymous, began smoking marijuana before college. He was a sophomore in high school when his best friend introduced him to it.

Sometimes he smokes more, but other times, he doesn’t as frequently.

“It wasn’t too often through sophomore year, just a couple times. Then, in the beginning of junior year, it was the same thing,” he said.

“Then, junior year summer, it happened rapidly. It slowed down the beginning of my senior year, until I got a job because the only reason I stopped was because I had no money for it.”

In college, it works the same way for him. When he has extra money, he will buy marijuana, but if he doesn’t have the money to spend on it, he is content without it.

“It makes me relaxed, more focused,” he said. “Things are a lot funnier and a lot more enjoyable. Everything is a lot more enjoyable when you’re high, everything, basically: sex, food, video games.”

This freshman used to drink a significant amount of alcohol in high school, so much so that he called himself an “alcoholic.” He stopped drinking, though, and he considers marijuana to be a better alternative.

“If someone is going to... be like ‘yeah, weed’s illegal,’ [I’ll argue that] if you’re drinking under age that’s illegal too,” he said. “So, they’re being a hypocrite if they are going to judge me for smoking weed.”

While he doesn’t discuss it openly with his parents, he doesn’t attempt to keep it a secret either. When his mother commented about his clothes smelling like marijuana, he didn’t deny it.

“I’m not ashamed of it or anything,” he said.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the drug in marijuana, sometimes acts as a depressant, other times as a stimulant and even can be a hallucinogen. Often, drugs are categorized as one of the three, but THC can be any of the three depending on the type of marijuana bought and the quantity that someone uses.

“Marijuana is an interesting drug,” Crowell said. “It can be a stimulant because it speeds up the nervous system. It’s a depressant because it actually suppresses memory... but it’s also a hallucinogen in high doses.”

He saw someone suffer from hallucinations while in college, and it scared him. Crowell wrestled in college and spent most of his time on campus with the same peer group. He saw some people who used marijuana and others who didn’t. He lived in a dorm with them, ate dinner with them, worked out with them and went to class with them.

“Your peer group is incredibly important in regards to what you end up doing,” he said.

While some of the students he spent time with ended up smoking, he and others didn’t want to follow this path. According to Crowell, sometimes these students would come back to college after going home for the weekend with garbage bags packed full of marijuana in their trunks as it grew wild.

“I had some guys in my dorm who smoked marijuana and pretty soon they didn’t go to class,” he said.

“When you start smoking young, your goals and things like that are kind of blown off, and whether or not that would have happened without weed, I don’t know. But, they were into school for a while, and then, they were into weed, and then, they weren’t into anything other than smoking weed.”

Students can stop though. Crowell has seen people stop once they graduate college, get a job or start a family.

“I think it really comes down to if smoking marijuana has become part of their lifestyle,” he said.

“Because there’s some people I knew in college that got a job and they quit. They weren’t addicted and it wasn’t part of their life. Once you leave that atmosphere of partying, things change.”

More so, on the survey he gives to students in his classes, he has seen many upperclassmen students admit to using marijuana in their first few years on campus, but then, they say they’ve quit.

The sophomore and the freshman who smoke marijuana now have every intention of quitting when they finish college. The sophomore wants to quit before he gets a job in his field of study, while the freshman student says he will quit when he starts a family.

“I’m not going to raise my kids high,” he said.

Alan Soltys, a senior, didn’t begin college at Edinboro. Now in his 40s, Soltys came back to school after working a series of jobs, in everything from telemarketing to manual labor.

He began college years ago, directly after his high school graduation. He didn’t attend very long though.

“A friend of mine that I grew up with was at the same college that I was at... and he had done a lot of drugs when he was in high school, so he knew all about it. He ran into a guy who had some stuff and got it for us,” Soltys said. “I sort of wanted to be cool like him; it was a little peer pressure. He rolled a joint, and we tried it there.”

He said that he started one day and about 10 years later, he finally gave it up.

Soltys had been a college student with big dreams and ideas, but smoking marijuana caused his motivation to dissolve away.

When he decided to quit, his motivation returned. Today, he’s the founder of Loklfolk, an idea that he calls the “community’s company.”

“Every person goes through a process to get to where they need to be,” Soltys said. 

Tracy Geibel is the Campus Life Editor of The Spectator. She can be reached at campuslife.spectator@gmail.com

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