Weed gets mixed reviews

Marijuana has replaced cigarettes for a majority of college students, according to a nationally representative study, raising concerns about weed’s health impact.

The report, Monitoring the Future released by the University of Michigan in September said one of the reasons for the study is that learning what people are ingesting can lead to information about possible threats to national health.

Coincidentally, within the same time period as the MTF study, other marijuana-related research was released addressing marijuana’s side effects. The studies were published by well-respected sources, including the New England Journal of Medicine and Journal of Neuroscience.

“As marijuana use becomes legal in some states, the dominant public opinion is that marijuana is a harmless source of mood alteration. Although the harms associated with marijuana use have not been well studied, enough information is available to cause concern,” the NEJM reported in its article, Adverse Health Effects of Marijuana Use, June, 2014.

“Cannabis use is associated with impairments of cognitive functions, including learning and memory, attention, and decision-making,” reported the Journal of Neuroscience in its April 16 issue.

Skyline College health officials are also concerned.

“What I tell students about using marijuana on a regular basis is that it affects memory. A compromised memory will impact their studies. I advise all our students to stop using it,” said Skyline College Student Health Services’ Emily Risk, R.N.

That cigarettes can cause lung cancer is a well-documented fact. It turns out that smoking weed on a regular basis can also do lung damage.

“Smoking marijuana clearly damages the human lung. Research shows that smoking marijuana causes chronic bronchitis and marijuana smoke has been shown to injure the cell linings of the large airways, which could explain why smoking marijuana leads to symptoms such as chronic cough, phlegm production, wheeze and acute bronchitis,” reads the American Lung Association’s website.

And information published in a brochure, “Marijuana,” found in the Skyline Health Services office states, “Marijuana smoke contains cancer-causing substances…”

Interestingly, randomly questioned College District students reflected a more nuanced response than the national MTF study.

. “I used to smoke weed three or four times a week,” a Skyline student approached in a campus parking lot said, on condition of anonymity. “It was just part of my environment. I saw smoking weed as a social thing. I don’t do it very much at all now, because I no longer spend time with the same guys.”

Several students taking a break in a smoking zone on the College of San Mateo campus offered additional anonymous comments.

“Weed is better than cancer sticks.”

“Weed affects motor skills, reaction time and thought processes.”

“I used to use weed but I stopped ’cause it triggered anxiety. My husband stopped, too. He used to get really paranoid.”