Marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S., continues to find its way to Ferris State University with over 50 reported incidents in 2010. Of those incidents, 44 students have been arrested.
Recently, there have been marijuana reports every week since students returned from holiday break. Use of marijuana has been reported in Travis Hall, Merrill Hall and Brophy Hall, all within the past three weeks.
Most students understand the risks involved with using the drug, but those interviewed were not worried about getting caught.
“I feel like I’m a lot safer than those students who go to other places and smoke. I do it on my porch so the smell isn’t in the hallway,” said a Ferris forensic biology student.
A student speaking under the condition of anonymity said smoking marijuana has helped relieve the stress felt from the pressures of college.
“I’ve cried this past semester over stressing out with school. Pot, for me, was a stress reliever. I needed something to calm my nerves,” said a senior student.
The biology student said it helps her sleep, plus it does not make her sick like alcohol. She said she started smoking pot her freshman year of college because her friends were doing it and she thought it looked fun. According to the student, her friends seemed happy, more social and relaxed while using the drug.
“College is the time for students to experiment. There are a lot of opportunities, but our role is to educate and provide avenues of healthy living,” said Cramer Hall Director Brittany Leslie.
Some Ferris students do not think pot can be addictive or cause any serious health problems.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with it, and I don’t think people can be addicted to it either,” said a Ferris business administration student.
According to drugabuse.gov, “Marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving and problems with learning and memory.” Long-term use of marijuana can also lead to addiction. Estimates from research suggest that about nine percent of users become addicted to marijuana.
A surveying engineering student at Ferris said he tried marijuana because he was curious. While reflecting on it, he viewed his use of the drug as a positive recreational experience. He stated he will stop using the drug after college because he thinks it is unprofessional.
Students who are caught may be charged with a misdemeanor and could pay up to $500, as well as time in jail. Those charged with a felony are fined at least $1,000 and may spend more than a year in jail.
“If police are involved and there is a significant amount on the students, it has to go on the record. Students will have to report that on every job application for the rest of their lives,” Leslie said.
James Cook, assistant director of the Department of Public Safety, said depending on each individual circumstance, arrests can be made on the spot. If caught, students will be sent to the Office of Student Conduct for noticeable physical effects, possession or if they have intentions of delivery.
“I think that a lot of the time, it’s a lot like alcohol. It can be misused. It is available in as much quantity as alcohol is; so the ability to get it is there as well as the ability to misuse it,” said the surveying engineering student.
Cook said students who have used the drug before entering college are not going to stop using it once they are in college, saying it is sometimes part of students’ background and lifestyle.
Leslie expands on how her role as a hall director is to influence students to lead a healthy life. She says the university wants to “provide a safe environment for students to live in.”
Those seeking help are recommended to talk to their RA or visit the Birkham Health Center or the Department of Public Safety. To find out more information about marijuana, visit drugabuse.gov. n