Weed, pot, reefer, grass, dope, maryjane, hash, blunt.... Marijuana. Its names are many and so are the myths related to it: Marijuana is harmless... Marijuana isn't addictive... Driving high is safer than driving drunk. The truth is, marijuana can cause major problems.
Making decisions about drugs (including alcohol) is something we all are faced with at some point in our life. For many, these choices first happen once we get to college. We want you to be educated about the realities of marijuana use, especially the consequences. As you are faced with these choices, we encourage you to consider that UND has a no tolerance policy for drug use, especially within our Residence Halls. Remember, the Health & Wellness Hub is here to aid you as you navigate these tricky decisions.
What You Should Know About Marijuana
So what is marijuana, really? Marijuana is the dried flowers, leaves and stems of the Cannabis sativa plant. THC (delta 9 tetrhydrocannabinol) is the active ingredient in marijuana; in other words, it's the ingredient that causes changes in your body which make you feel differently than how you feel when sober. The levels of THC can vary greatly depending upon the form of marijuana. THC levels can range from 1% all the way up to 50%. The more THC, the stronger the side effects.
How is marijuana used? Marijuana is usually smoked, however it can also be eaten in food. It is important to know that THC (the active ingredient) can remain in the lungs and brain tissue for up to 3 weeks. So just because you haven't used marijuana in a few days doesn't mean that you will be in the clear if given a drug test.
Facts About Marijuana
FACT: Marijuana can cause major health, safety, social, and learning problems (not to mention the legal consequences!). Many believe that marijuana is not only harmless but that it has medical benefits. To date, there is no medical research that proves marijuana has any health benefits.
FACT: Marijuana can lower your IQ score (roughly 8 points, on average). This is especially true for if you began using marijuana in your teens. What about people who start using marijuana at age 18 or older? You are still very likely to lower your IQ score.
FACT: Marijuana is addictive. In the past, it was thought that marijuana was a "safe" or non-addictive drug. More and more studies are finding that marijuana has addictive properties. Both animal and human studies show physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms:
- Intense dreams
Question: If marijuana is addictive, does that mean I could build a tolerance to it like I can with alcohol? Absolutely! Much like a tolerance to alcohol, you can also build a tolerance to marijuana. To have a tolerance means it takes more (even 8 times more) of the drug to feel the effects of the drug. Some may think, 'Okay, cool! It just means I can do more of it!' This might be true however tolerance is one step away from addiction, or having a compulsive need for the substance. By no means is tolerance a good thing!!
FACT: Smoking ONE marijuana joint has the same effects on a person's lungs as smoking 16 tobacco cigarettes. If you have heard that smoking marijuana isn't as bad as smoking tobacco, it was just a myth. In case that alone isn't enough, marijuana has 3-5 times more tar, carbon monoxide, and cancer-causing chemicals than tobacco.
FACT: The chance of a car crash doubles while driving under the influence of marijuana. It is not true that driving under the influence of marijuana is safe, or that it is safer than driving drunk. Marijuana affects concentration, perception, coordination, reaction time, and alertness- all of which are essential skills for safe driving. Remember how long it takes to get THC out of your system? It can be weeks! Your driving can easily be impaired even 12-24 hours after you used marijuana.
FACT: At high doses, marijuana can cause psychosis (the loss of contact with reality) which usually includes delusions (false beliefs about what is taking place or who you are) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't really there). Those who start using marijuana at a young age (teens or younger) are more likely to experience schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
Health Consequences of Using Marijuana
Short term effects associated with smoking marijuana include:
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Increased heart rate
- Visible signs of intoxication, such as bloodshot eyes and puffy eyelids
- Impaired short-term memory
- Difficulty thinking and problem solving
- Anxiety attacks or feelings of paranoia
- Impaired muscle coordination and judgment
- Increased susceptibility to infections
- Dangerous impairment of driving skills. Studies show that it impairs braking time, attention to traffic signals, and other driving behaviors. This impairment can last 12 to 24 hours due to accumulation of marijuana in fatty tissue.
- Cardiac problems for people with heart disease or high blood pressure, because marijuana increases the heart rate
Long term effects associated with smoking marijuana:
- Memory and learning
- Research shows that regular marijuana use compromises the ability to learn and to remember information by impairing the ability to focus, sustain, and shift attention. One study also found that long-term use reduces the ability to organize and integrate complex information.
- In addition, marijuana impairs short-term memory and decreases motivation to accomplish tasks, even after the high is over. In one study, even small doses impaired the ability to recall words from a list seen 20 minutes earlier.
- Mental Illness
- Marijuana use is associated with increased prevalence of depression, schizophrenia and psychosis. It remains unclear whether marijuana triggers the onset of these illnesses only in vulnerable people or whether it can cause them in people who would not have developed them otherwise.
- Long-term marijuana use suppresses the production of hormones that help regulate the reproductive system. For men, this can cause decreased sperm counts and sperm motility and heavy users can experience erectile dysfunction. Women may experience irregular periods from heavy marijuana use. These problems would most likely result in a decreased ability to conceive but not lead to complete infertility.
How Many People At UND Use Marijuana?
With marijuana in the news regularly, 'legal' in some states, and a lot of talk about medical marijuana, what's the deal? How many UND students actually use marijuana? Actually 88.9% of UND students do not use marijuana. UND students use marijuana less than college students other schools in the U.S. Actually less students at UND use marijuana than college students at other North Dakota schools.
UND has a zero-tolerance policy for drug use, especially within our Residence Halls. If you are found with marijuana in the residence halls, you will be evicted immediately and parental notification will occur. In accordance with a 1998 amendment to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, UND may notify parents or guardians of students who, at the time of disclosure, are under the age of 21 and have violated any federal, state, or local laws, or violated any rule or policy of the institution governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance. Parental notification will be made for any drug offense.
See UND Code of Student Life for specifics.
Legal Consequences of Marijuana Use
In addition to disciplinary consequences at UND, marijuana is illegal and its possession, use, and sale carry prison sentences and fines. Furthermore, conviction of a drug-related offense can brand you with a criminal record for the rest of your life! You will also lose your financial aid (first offense- one year, second offense- three years, third offense- indefinitely).
The State of North Dakota has adopted the Uniform Controlled Substances Act which makes it "unlawful for any person to manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance [...]" (North Dakota Century Code Section 19-03.1).
Legal penalties for alcohol offenses range:
- A Class B misdemeanor may result in 30 days in jail and/or $1,000 fine.
- A Class A misdemeanor may result in one year in jail and/or $2,000 fine.
For drug offenses, an individual will be charged according to the amount and classification of the controlled substance. Charges range from a Class B Misdemeanor to a Class A Felony, which carries with it a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail and/or a fine of $10,000.
What Are the Health Consequences of Marijuana Use?
The health consequences of marijuana use are many. We encourage you to consider these short-term effects and how they might impact your academic success.
Impaired short-term memory
- When your short-term memory is impaired, it is going to be much more difficult for you to remember the information you learned in class when, later on, you're back home working on your homework. And, if your short-term memory is impaired it will be more difficult to make long term memories, which means that final exam is going to be a real pain!
Difficulty thinking and problem solving
- One of the major things we are supposed to learn while at college is how to think critically. For this reason, our classes are designed in a way that will challenge us to think about and solve problems in ways we have never experienced before. Doing this without any drugs is hard enough, but when you add marijuana, it becomes much much more difficult!
Anxiety attacks or feelings of paranoia
- Some think that marijuana helps anxiety, but it actually causes more anxiety and can even lead to feelings of paranoia. Paranoia is a more severe form of anxiety, to the point of irrationality and even delusion. Ever feel nervous before a big test? Or when trying to write a paper you're struggling with? Marijuana can magnify those nerves and sense of anxiousness, even to the point of being unable to complete that text or paper.
Impaired muscle coordination and judgment
- We use our muscle coordination and judgment in nearly every task we do. Putting on a pair of pants, writing a text message, deciding if there is enough time between cars to cross the road... When our muscle coordination and judgment are impaired, we can literally find ourselves in situations that are life and death without realizing it.
Increased susceptibility to infections
- On that first day of class each semester, when we receive our syllabi for the semester, one thing that you'll notice is that there isn't any room for sick days. Being around so many people all of the time (especially if you share a room or apartment with others) means that we are more likely to spread illnesses to one another. Using marijuana weakens our immune system making it more likely to get the nasty cold going around, the flu, and any number of even worse illnesses. Being sick more often usually means missing more class. Missing enough classes can easily lead to failing the class.
- Dry mouth and eyes, increased heart rate, visible signs of intoxication, etc.
- For more information about the health risks of marijuana we suggest that you visit the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) website: www.NIH.gov
Campus Resources for Marijuana
Dean of Students Office
The Dean of Students Office supports the campus learning environment and contributes to student learning and the overall safety and civility of the community.
- General advisement and campus consultation
- Provides student disciplinary services
- Coordination of referrals and services for students in crisis or in need
- Assistance in problem solving and identifying appropriate and available services
The Dean of Students Office also provides referral guides for students, parents, faculty and staff (click below):
- For Families Helping Their Student
- For Students Helping a Friend
- For Faculty and Staff Helping a Student
University Counseling Center
The University Counseling Center specializes in students. The staff (professionally trained psychologists and counselors) is available to help students enhance their strengths and develop their abilities to effectively deal with the experiences of living, growing, and learning at UND.
The University Counseling Center offers many services to the UND undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. These services include:
- Alcohol and drug counseling
- Individual counseling
- Group counseling
- Couples counseling
- Career counseling
- Assistance with referrals
Health & Wellness Hub
The Health & Wellness Hub has a variety of resource materials, handouts, display boards, and Peer Educator staff to help guide students, families, and staff through questions, choices, and issues regarding alcohol and other drugs.
Peer Educators are UND students who are committed to a campus social environment that provides low-risk choices for students and promotes and reflects the attitudes, behaviors and values of a healthy lifestyle. The Peer Educators are trained to facilitated on-campus workshops about alcohol and other drugs. They also conduct one-to-one assessments of personal alcohol use, implement preventative and alternative programs, conduct media campaigns, and disseminate information on a wide variety of health topics.
Why talk to a Peer Educator? They are students just like you so they are experiencing the same things you are. They can talk with you like a friend, but they are trained in alcohol and other drugs, sexual and general health, mental health, and nutrition and physical activity. Because they are trained in these topic areas, they can answer questions, listen when you need a shoulder to lean on, and get you connected to other resources. Stop by, we are always looking for a new friend to chat with!
- National Institute of Health
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Clubdrugs.org, a service of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)