Elicit drug use among adolescents, especially college students, is considered a large problem among society. The government has tried many things to wipe out this problem, everything ranging from “This is your brain on drugs” TV commercials; to student wide random drug testing has been put into effect. These are all consequences of the “War on drugs” instated by the Nixon administration.
More specifically, marijuana has been steadily increasing among college students over the last decade (from 41% to 47%) (Mohler-Kuo, Lee, Wechsler). But how large of a problem is it? And furthermore, how prevalent is the use of marijuana among Drexel students? Well from my experiences here over the past months, I can honestly say I had trouble finding students who don’t smoke the plant.
I conducted interviews with peers about the subject of marijuana; this is just one of their tales of a typical smoking session. VP wakes up on a Tuesday afternoon, groggy and hungry; he grabs a bight to eat and says “hey, why not find some weed to smoke”. He then calls up his buddies to see if they are willing to split a “bag” with him. Usually at least 2 or 3 friends will oblige, and then VP attempts to procure this bag.
Some days are tougher than others to find some weed but it generally takes no more than a half hour to call, meet up with, and buy the marijuana. “The consumption can really vary, whether it be a bowl, or a joint, or a blunt, or any of the above… or all of the above,” explains VP as he drags on his cigarette.
Then of course, they meet at one of the various smoking spots to consume the marijuana. “Puff puff pass to the left, in a circle as it should be.” VP says this with conviction. After the friends finish the session, they tend to get the “munchies” and find some food, then lay around in the dorms.
According to one source, marijuana is said to have a direct link to “amotivational syndrome” in which the user is unmotivated in their lives and their achievement of career, academic, and personal goals (State University Blog). When I asked VP if smoking weed effects his schoolwork negatively or even positively, he said “sometimes I smoke some weed and I’m like, Oh My God I can’t move.
And other times I will be like, grr I’m going to write this paper, PAPER, PAPER, PAPER. And I will do my work and it will be decent.” There is no proof that says that marijuana causes amotivational syndrome, rather the fact that individuals who are not motivated, also tend to smoke weed. This doesn’t mean that weed will actually cause one to lose all motivation in life. In fact, some of the world’s greatest artists found their motivation and their “muse” under the influence of none other than, marijuana.
When I asked my interviewees how prevalent marijuana use is among their peers they all responded as if most of the people they know partake in smoking. VP had this to say, “Since being at college I have only met one or two people that don’t smoke weed.” I think this exemplifies the prevalence of marijuana throughout Drexel.
According to one source, illicit drug use among college students has risen from 41% to 47% over the last decade; no such statistic was stated for marijuana specifically (Mohler-Kuo, Lee, Wechsler).
When VP was asked, would he consider himself a “pot-head” he responded that “pot head is such a derogatory term, I like to consider myself a dope fiend.” This exemplifies the humor many smokers find in the hypocrisies of societies judgment of marijuana users. This leads me into the next area I will be examining, marijuana versus alcohol.
When VP was asked which he prefers, smoking pot or drinking alcohol, he responded “I would choose marijuana because I can do that at any time of the day, and nobody will judge me about it. And if they do who gives a shit.” When I asked another interviewee, AL which he thinks debilitates his judgment and motor skills the most, weed or alcohol, he had this to say.
“Alcohol, by far.” This seems to be the general consensus. Alcohol tends to be more intense than marijuana. When AL was asked which he prefers, he simply exclaims, “Weed!
With weed you can literally do absolutely nothing and be completely content with your life.” In contrast with alcohol, which tends to make people want to be more reckless, usually translating to getting behind the wheel of a car, or picking a fight with someone. According to one source, alcohol is by far the most prevalent drug used among college students. In fact about 45 percent of college students report drinking alcohol on a weekly or more basis (Presley, Meilman).
Unfortunately, because alcohol is legal, most students find it to be the lesser of the two evils, and safer than marijuana. This is also due in part to the war on drugs tireless campaign against marijuana specifically. This is sadly just misinformation, in fact according to drugwarfacts.org, 85,000 people die per year from alcohol. Marijuana, in contrast has never killed anybody. Even if you just smoked one time you can be drug tested anytime, and you will be forced to use illegal detox products such as synthetic urine or detox drinks in order to pass the test.
There are zero deaths linked to marijuana in history. (drugwarfacts.org). Also, alcohol has a higher risk of dependency than marijuana. College students still drink much more then they do smoke weed.
I asked VP what he preferred, joints, blunts, or bowls, he said without even thinking, “Joints all the way.” But how college students consume marijuana varies and is mostly up to personal preference. I have learned from my time here that blunts tend to be the most popular form of smoking weed on campus, mostly because they are convenient to smoke outside, and they are the perfect amount of cannabis for a small group of friends.
A blunt is a cheap cigar, cut down the middle and gutted of all its tobacco, then filled with broken up cannabis and rolled into a slow burning, long joint. The blunt is rumored to actually originate from the city of Philadelphia. When I asked AL what method he prefers, he explained, “I like bongs, but you can’t smoke a bong wherever you want, so I prefer a well rolled joint.
” A bong is a type of pipe primarily used for marijuana; it has a long wide chamber for collecting smoke, and a water chamber at the bottom. The smoke is drawn down the bowl and stem, and filtered through the water, making the bubbling sound familiar to most “stoners”. Bongs tend to create the largest hits compared to joints or even regular bowls, but because of their large size they are not as versatile as other methods of smoking.
At Drexel, marijuana tends to be a drug mostly used by guys, but I myself know plenty of girls who smoke the plant. I think the reason it seems more prevalent among guys is the fact that Drexel as a very large male population compared to females. Also, many girls believe that it isn’t very “lady-like” to smoke weed. So if they do smoke, they may not admit it, or do it often.
Marijuana is in fact a drug, there is no denying that. But its effects are not as serious as other hard drugs, or even as alcohol. Marijuana tends to make people silly. I asked AL to give me a story of a time he was high, and he referenced a time he smoked with none other than VP. “We started asking each other random questions, then we started rhyming, saying things like, if you were a mouse, would you live in a house?” They continued in this Doctor Seuss rhyming trend for almost a half an hour. Only taking breaks for their uncontrollable laughter.
Walking around Drexel’s campus, it is easy to find someone smoking weed. There are certain spots where smokers tend to culminate. One of which is the benches by race street. Prior to the opening of the Northside Dining Terrace, I would go out to Race Street and literally every bench would be full of people, and a cloud of cannabis will be rising over the horizon. After the dining terrace opened, it seems like the area is less populated, but still, on any given night one could run into a group of smokers or two.
There doesn’t seem to be any relation between the types of people smoking, and the place they are smoking. Pot smokers tend to smoke wherever they think its safe, at any given time there can be groups of people from all different social backgrounds.
Another place commonly used as a place to smoke is Pearl St. Morally I can’t say where on Pearl Street, but since it’s a narrow street there is very little wind and plenty of cover; making for a great place to partake in illegal activities such as marijuana smoking.
Another great place to smoke (and my personal favorite) is Drexel Park. It is nothing more than an open field on a hill off of Powelton Ave. There are just a few benches and some streetlights, but it has one of the most amazing skyline views of Philadelphia you can find in the area. Of course, the view is that much more breathtaking when you are under the influence.
The Schuylkill Banks is a long pathway running along the banks of the Schuylkill River. It is frequented by joggers during the day but during the night it is almost desolate. The pathway runs under several bridges such as Market and Chestnut Street. These underpasses provide adequate cover from the pouring rain on those off days where you want to smoke some weed but the weather isn’t cooperating. It is the farthest walk of all the spots but it is definitely worth the walk. This spot isn’t really frequented by a multitude of pot heads, but has been a choice spot for my friends and I over the last few months.
Of course sometimes the most obvious spots are safe enough to smoke a quick joint at. For example, late at night, one can spot a small group of people forming a crude circle on the steps leading up to Calhoun Hall.
This is because the steps are far enough away from the building that not many people walk by, and late at night it is easy to miss a bunch of people sitting on the steps. The few people that walk by always flash a dirty look or a giggle when they smell the sweet marijuana smell permeating through the air.
Smokers tend to go unnoticed. We are an unorganized group of people with a common goal. That goal is of course to get as high as possible. We are walking down the sidewalk, we are around the corner from your workplace, we are eating at your favorite restaurant and we deliver your pizza. Smokers are everywhere, and unless you are a smoker yourself, you may walk by a group or an individual smoking weed and not notice at all.
When you are a smoker yourself you can always spot a fellow pot head. It is like a sixth sense acquired from years of marijuana use. The smell is the first thing noticed, then a quick glance around your surroundings will reveal someone passing a small white something to another person, or the sound of someone coughing uncontrollably is another dead giveaway. I spot the person smoking weed and I can’t help but smile. I know that smokers will be around forever.
The legality of it has no affect on the amount of people smoking marijuana in the world. The alcohol prohibition did nothing but increase the amounts of people dying from alcohol poisoning, and the marijuana prohibition is just putting innocent kids into jail or giving them a record that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Marijuana will never die. No matter how hard the government tries. Hopefully the prohibition will eventually be lifted, and smokers can finally live in peace without constantly looking over their shoulder. That’s the world I strive to live in.