National, local marijuana use on the rise

Marijuana uses are at an all-time high, according to national reports. One in 20 college students use marijuana daily. Students say they use it to relax and improve their mood.

By LAURA BUTTERBRODT Lifestyles Editor

National reports of marijuana use are at an all-time high, according to Darci Nichols, assistant director of Wellness Center Counseling. Statistics show one in 20 college students use marijuana daily. Broken down, the report said one in 11 males and one in 35 females use daily.

While SDSU has lower usage numbers than the national averages, the numbers are growing, Nichols said. Of all college students, only 6.2 percent reported use within 30 days of the study.

Effects of marijuana college students may find a benefit from include relaxation and improved mood.

“Students tend to report in sessions or assessments that they often use [marijuana] to help them fall asleep,” Nichols said.

However, Nichols said these effects tend to overshadow the risks of smoking marijuana. Short-term memory loss, decreased reaction time, difficulty thinking and a weakened immune system are also effects of marijuana.

“I think the more challenging piece is, how do you educate students about the downsides of use, especially if they’re in a peer group where a lot of people are using,” Nichols said. 

The biggest consequences of using marijuana are the legal repercussions, however.

The University Police Department dealt 19 charges of possession of marijuana, 20 charges of ingesting a substance and 19 charges of use or possession of drug paraphernalia between January 1 and February 26, 2017.

According to UPD Detective Brandon Schultz and Brookings Police Lt. Derrick Powers, the legalization of marijuana in other states such as Colorado has led to increased use in Brookings.

Despite the increase, Powers said marijuana has been in Brookings long before other states legalized it.

“It isn’t lately, it’s been something that we’ve always dealt with,” Powers said.

Schultz said he has come across higher use of marijuana in the form of edibles, wax and oils. Since these forms of marijuana are chemically altered, they are considered a controlled substance.

Controlled substance charges are a felony, which differs from ingestion or possession of marijuana charges, both are a misdemeanor.

Both UPD and Brookings Police have been working on enforcement of drug possession and are spending more time investigating charges. The Brookings Police Department also has a drug dog that works with officers.

The amount of students smoking in the residence halls has decreased since he started in 2011, said Schultz. But many students who are caught ingesting, or in possession, are found after returning to residence halls.

“A lot of what’s coming from the dorms now … it’s the people coming back inside and the odor trails them to their room,” Schultz said. Instead, students may go to the Southeast Resident parking lot, or drive around on gravel roads outside of Brookings to smoke.

According to Powers and Schultz, smoking while driving is a problem because it changes ingestion charges to a DUI.

“Smoking marijuana is bad: [it’s] not legal, [it’s a] class one misdemeanor, but DUI is a lot worse,” Schultz said.

When a student is caught ingesting or in possession of marijuana, they are brought into custody and a report is filed to the State’s Attorney. Student Affairs and the dean of students are also notified.

“Depending on the circumstances, whether it’s a DUI arrest or a possession arrest, the amount of it, there are consequences,” Powers said. “It just doesn’t stop at the fine. This is something that can stay on your record.”