A Chronic Problem

Because marijuana is not federally legal, it cannot be smoked on federally-funded college campuses such as ARC, despite students' possession of medical marijuana cards. (Photo by Alicia Kirby)

It may come as no surprise that some American River College students smoke marijuana on campus. Although California may take a more liberal approach to marijuana than other states, campus police still take each report of its use seriously.

“If it’s for sale, they’re going to jail,” said Sgt. Mike Olsen of the Los Rios Police Department. “If it’s (not enough to sell), but more than (enough for) student discipline, then they’ll probably be cited and released where they are.”

There is no official policy making marijuana on campus a lower priority crime, however Olsen stated that police have to “weigh the circumstances” for each instance that’s reported. Even though students may be in possession of a medical marijuana recommendation, smoking pot on campus is still not allowed.

“What we do with it is going to be dependent on several factors,” Olsen said. “How much (marijuana is possessed), do they actually have a medical marijuana card, are they actually an authorized person that just doesn’t know better or are they just a drug user. What we do with them is anything from sending them over to student discipline to arresting them.”

The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 was passed “to ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana … in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.” Anxiety disorders, although not directly specified, have been known to commonly warrant a prescription for the use of cannabis.

“If it’s for medical reasons (like anxiety) and is helping them, there should be designated spots for them (to smoke) so if people are against it, they won’t be bothered,” said ARC student Davin Brink-Clapp.

The causes of anxiety are not fully understood, as reasons may differ from person to person. The pressures of education, such as presentations and final exams, are a main factor for anxiety in students. Fear, paranoia and general unease are the most common symptoms of anxiety and might be managed with medication or cured with lifestyle changes. ARC students suffering from anxiety might prefer a more herbal remedy.

Counter to its intent, one of the most common side effects from chronic marijuana use is anxiety. The dose of the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, found in marijuana is an important factor. At low doses, THC can be sedating. At higher doses, however, this substance can induce intense episodes of anxiety.

Those seeking help with anxiety in school may not find the answer in marijuana. Use of cannabis may harm students’ school performance, especially if law enforcement catches them using it on campus.

Because marijuana is not federally legal, it cannot be smoked or otherwise used on federally-funded college campuses. ARC is a federally-funded school and is required to meet national legal standards or the campus cannot benefit from federal funds.

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About the Author

Emily K. Rabasto
Emily Rabasto was the spring 2014 Editor-in-chief of the Current. She also served as the Current's Photo editor and assistant magazine editor for Dam! magazine. She graduated in 2015.

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