After alcohol, marijuana is the most
commonly abused drug among college students, with 30-35% of college students
reporting use in the last year. Although
marijuana use among college students has decreased slightly in recent years,
students often underestimate the risks associated with marijuana use. These can range from physical effects,
similar to cigarette smoking; cognitive impairment, and legal
and your body
The two biggest risks associated with
marijuana use include
- Respiratory illness related to smoking.
risk of injury due to impairment, including car accidents resulting from
driving while high.
like coughing, wheezing, and increased respiratory infection are caused by the
irritant effects of inhaling marijuana smoke, while accidental injuries often
result from marijuana’s influence on a person’s judgment and motor skills.
Once marijuana is smoked or ingested, the
active ingredient THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)
to the bloodstream, brain, and other organs in the body. THC heads straight for cannabinoid receptors
in the brain, which are located in the brain’s “pleasure” center, memory, and
movement control centers. Although the high may only last a few hours, THC can
remain in the body for weeks after use.
- Feelings of intoxication
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dry mouth and throat
- Bloodshot eyes
- Loss of coordination or poor sense of balance
- Decreased reaction time
- Impaired or reduced short-term memory
- Impaired judgment and perception
- Altered sense of time
- Intense anxiety or panic attacks
Chronic use and
Chronic marijuana users tend to experience the same respiratory problems as regular cigarette smokers
(coughing, wheezing, upper respiratory illnesses, and increased risk of lung
infections like pneumonia). Chronic use may also increase their risk of
injury, particularly if they are driving while high.
Other long term effects include:
- Decreased immune system
- Decreased sperm production in
- Learning and memory problems,
affecting ability to perform multi-step tasks
- Difficulty with problem-solving
and long term memory
After a period of chronic use,
a person may become marijuana dependent.
Dependence involves developing a
tolerance (needing to use more to produce the same effect), using even in the
presence of negative consequences, and giving up social or recreation
activities in favor of getting high. Chronic use can lead to increased apathy and withdrawal from friends,
school, and fun activities like playing sports or participating in clubs. In other words, if a person no longer enjoys
things she used to because of marijuana this may signal a problem. Those who become dependent may often
experience withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing use. These symptoms may include irritability, sleeping difficulties, anxiety, craving,
Marijuana and the law
is illegal to grow, buy, sell, or possess marijuana in the state of North
Carolina. That means choosing to use
marijuana equals breaking the law, which can lead to heavy fines,
academic suspension, loss of financial aid, and even jail time.
has a zero tolerance when it comes to marijuana. Read UNC’s
Policy on Illegal Drugs for more information.
use can also compromise your financial aid status. The Higher Education Act
prevents access to federal student loans for anyone with a drug conviction, no
matter how minor. In the 2003-04 academic year, an estimated 41,000 applicants
for federal student aid were disqualified because of drug convictions. A marijuana conviction can stay on your
record for years, and with more and more companies performing background checks
on potential employees, this could mean trouble landing your dream job post