Disclaimer: The information, articles, and tips portrayed on this blog, while based on research, do not constitute medical advice. The opinions expressed are meant to educate and inform, but not to dictate lifestyle choices or personal beliefs. These articles are meant to provoke thought on issues surrounding college health and to inform the Hopkins community of healthy information and resources.


Weeding out the facts

Earlier this week, marijuana was decriminalized in the state of Maryland.  The bill reduces the penalty for small amounts of marijuana possession from a 90-day prison term and $1000 fine to a civil fine starting at $100.  In other words, possessing 10 grams or less of the substance will now be considered a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense, and the punishment will be less severe (no jail time and increasing monetary fines, as necessary for multiple offenses).

For anyone wondering, this does not mean that the use of marijuana is legal.  Recreational marijuana  use continues to be illegal in Maryland.

So, what does it really do to our bodies?

Marijuana over-activates the part of the brain that influences memory, pleasure, perception, and coordination, causing the “high” and other effects that users experience. These effects include altered perceptions and mood, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory.  Some users may feel more relaxed, while others may feel anxious.  The effects can vary for each person, which can make it difficult to predict how one's body might react to the drug.

"Smoking marijuana can also cause many of the same respiratory problems experienced by tobacco smokers, such as increased daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illnesses such as bronchitis, and a greater instance of lung infections, according to NIDA."  However, there does not appear to be a connection between lung cancer, specifically, and marijuana use, according to some recent studies.

There is a lot to still learn about marijuana, and likely more will come out as studies become more abundant.

We also know that most JHU students have never used marijuana, according to a recent survey of undergraduates.  Through that survey we learned that a students think more people are using than really are; in fact, they think nearly 82% of our campus had used in the last 30 days.  However, the reality is less than 18% had used marijuana in that time frame.  Talk about overestimating the amount of drug use that is happening on campus.  So if you're not using marijuana, know that you are in the majority at Hopkins.  And with the potential for slower brain functions and all, should we really be surprised that Hopkins students are avoiding the memory shrinker?

Sources: drugabuse.gov 
NCHA JHU Survey, 2014