By Thairy Pontier Lantigua
“Marijuana doesn’t make me stupid. It makes me more functional and creative. I am passing all my classes with As and it puts me in a good mood,” said Lehman student Jenny Soto, 56, who smokes marijuana and denies it has any negative effects.
Soto was one of the Lehman students who participated in “Blunt Talk,” an open discussion organized by the Department of Wellness Education and Health Promotion Program as part of a series of talks regarding drug and alcohol use. The purpose of the event held on Nov. 29, 2018, was to help students make better choices about their health and well-being.
Speakers Erica Diaz, a wellness coach, and Ashmini Hiralall, a college prevention coordinator of the Wellness Education and Health Promotion Program, talked about the origins of cannabis and its history in the United States. During the conference, students were given the opportunity to discuss their opinions about marijuana, ask questions, and learn about the long and short-term effects of its use.
As the legalization of marijuana increases in the United States, so does the rate of consumption. A survey conducted by Marist College reports that nearly 55 million people, or 22 percent of Americans, have consumed marijuana at least once or twice in the last year. According to the survey, close to 35 million are regular users or people who use marijuana at least once or twice a month.
New York City is among the highest marijuana-consuming areas in the United States. Approximately 77 tons of cannabis are consumed each year, as found in a recent study conducted by Seedo. In May of 2018, police investigations found major racial disparities in marijuana arrests in the city. This prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to “end unnecessary arrests.” In a recent New York Times article, “Cuomo Moves to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in New York Within Months” Vivian Wang says that Governor Andrew Cuomo now advocates for the legalization of marijuana as part of his 2019 agenda.
Users say it helps alleviate the symptoms of nausea, pain, migraines, anorexia, and other infirmities. In the case of medicinal marijuana, the level of THC can be controlled. Students at the Blunt Talk event argued that there would be a significant decrease in the number of marijuana arrests and higher revenue if cannabis was officially legalized in New York as a recreational drug. However, others felt that legalizing marijuana would have dangerous effects.
“I gave seven years of my life to weed and it was a mistake. I don’t think weed should be legalized because it is a drug that is addictive and can be detrimental in the long run, leaving the user in a process de-escalation and distraction from reality,” said Hostos Community College student, Cesar Lantigua, 23. Lantigua attended the conference to do research for an independent project and explained that he found it very difficult to quit. “When I decided to stop, things got real. I couldn’t sleep well, I was mad most of the time. My body needed it at times. I was sweaty all the time, and I was anxious most of the time at work.”
Web pages, such as healthline.com and drugabuse.gov write that once individuals stop using the drug, they can experience withdrawal symptoms that include anxiety, sweating, diminished appetite, mood changes, irritability, insomnia and headaches.
“I think we need to understand that people are doing more and more on a daily basis, but it doesn’t mean that people can’t be addicted to it,” said 19-year-old, Hostos Community College student, Erick De La Rosa. “It’s a good thing that colleges are informing more students about it, I wish they did it at my school too so that people can know the pros and cons of it and make their choices.”