According to a recent University of Michigan study, daily marijuana usage is the highest its been since the 1980s and findings suggest that Americans are simply just becoming more accepting of it.
Students have noted that marijuana has little to no recovery time, and is a good, safe way to relax with friends. The study revealed that 5.9 percent of students across America’s college campuses are daily marijuana smokers, compared with only 5 percent being daily cigarette smokers.
With Sonoma State being situated in liberal Northern California, where medicinal marijuana has been legal since the passing of Proposition 215 in 1996, students are certainly more exposed to marijuana than other college campus communities and seniors Jake Duncan and Wes Koenig agree.
“I know a lot of people that smoke pot,” said Duncan. “I’d say it’s probably higher than 5.9 percent at Sonoma. I’d say 30 percent use daily [at Sonoma State].”
Koenig believes the reported percentages would be much higher in California.
Conversely, alcohol consumption can have severe consequences - especially if the individual decides to get behind the wheel under the influence.
A DUI sentence will usually include at least a couple dozen hours of community service, at least $1000 in fines, as well as losing your license for six months, and sometimes for more than a year. A DUI will stay on your record for 7-10 years and can interfere with getting a job in the future.
The University of Michigan study showed that binge drinking is way down.
“[The consequences] are way more risky- jail time, paying penalties, for weed there isn’t that much,” said Duncan, comparing the consequences of alcohol with marijuana use.
The media has certainly played a role in these all-time low statistics of college-aged tobacco users. Anti-smoking campaigns such as “Truth” are having an effect on young adults and how they view cigarette smoking.
The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) “Tips” campaign created the graphic ads featuring individuals living with long-term and life threatening health issues as a consequence of smoking. The campaigns have left a lasting impression on college students like Duncan.
Posters and commercials declaring “Don’t forget to cover you stoma”, feature a middle-aged man shaving while covering the gaping hole in his neck with a rag.
According to CDC.gov, the Tips campaign alone has motivated 1.6 million smokers to quit and smoking among teens and college students is becoming less and less prevalent.
Many students such as Koenig and Duncan don’t know many people that even smoke cigarettes on campus.
“Cigarettes give me a headache and [smoking] is way worse for your health [than marijuana],” said Duncan. “Maybe there’s not enough studies on weed, but as far as I’m concerned it seems pretty chill.”
With the current marijuana regulations being passed in other states such as Colorado and Washington D.C., the general consensus is that marijuana is no longer seen as a harmful and addictive drug.
According to students on campus such as Koenig, “It’s socially acceptable”. Marijuana has been on the ballot a couple of times in the past decade in California, with the most recent being Proposition 19 in 2010; it was shot down in a narrow margin with 53 percent voting “no” to legalization for recreational use.
“Even though it’s not quite legal, I think it’ll be on the next ballot,” said Duncan.
The answer to whether California will see the legalization of recreational marijuana in the near future still remains unclear and will ultimately be decided by voters including college students.