Andre Edwards smokes marijuana, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, just after midnight at the Space Needle in Seattle. Possession of marijuana became legal in Washington state at midnight, and several hundred people gathered at the Space Needle to smoke and celebrate the occasion.
The streets of Washington were hazy with smoke Thursday morning, after a law that legalizes the use of marijuana went into effect.
“It doesn’t surprise me that the law was passed, just because of the number of people I know that smoke weed. It makes sense that weed is legal when you compare it to dangerous substances like cigarettes and alcohol, that are legal but have serious dangers,” Danny Miller, a sophomore at Western Washington University, said.
Washington and Colorado are the first two states to legalize use of the drug in small quantities for users over age 21.
The age of legalization for most students occurs during their junior year of college.
But how are colleges adjusting to the new laws now that they have had some time to digest the changes?
“It’s still illegal to use on campuses under any circumstances because the universities operate under federal law,” Jack Horsley, medical director at Central Washington University’s student medical and counseling clinic, said.
As long as schools rely on federal funding, they have to follow federal laws, according to Horsley.
Darrell Goodwin, associate dean of students at Seattle University, says the way the school will treat marijuana citations won’t change with the new law.
“In terms of students who might be under the influence, we will still be looking under the code of conduct in terms of behavior in the classroom,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin says if students come to class after smoking, it will be approached the same way an alcohol case would be. Meaning, even if the student is legally allowed to drink, they aren’t allowed to let alcohol disturb the educational process– marijuana will be treated the same.
“The worst thing about weed is that it creates an unproductive atmosphere of people. I hope that that doesn’t reflect upon the education system after legalization. I don’t believe it will, to be honest,” Miller said.
Morgan Gierke, a junior at the University of Washington, doesn’t believe decriminalizing marijuana will lead to a sudden influx of students going to class under the influence.
“I believe that if students were already doing those activities in the first place, they will continue to do so but if not, then likely will not,” Gierke said.
In terms of college athletics, Julia Colosimo a freshman and cheerleader at Washington State University, believes marijuana use, even in free time, will not be tolerated.
“I think more people will start drug testing now that it is legal,” Colosimo said.
Ruben Baler, a neuroscientist with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that studies show daily use of the drug can have negative affects on academics, job performance and life satisfaction according to USA TODAY.
While excessive use of the drug can have negative effects, using marijuana for occasional recreational use outside of school doesn’t seem to worry Horsley.
“It depends on how they use it, if they do it for a little bit, it’s not going to do anything,” Horsley said.
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