‘Weed’ like to know about grass

    Whether you’re a habitual pot smoker, a once-a-month user or just a curious student, having clear information about the drug you’re putting in your body is always important. Marijuana, although less potent than some of the more serious drugs, can still have considerable effects on both mind and body. Many uninformed students who are curious about smoking pot never really take the time to research its effects. More often than not, the outcome isn’t drastic, but the resulting experiences can leave students wondering, “What the hell just happened to me?”

    According to Debbie Pino-Sabalett, director of health education at Student Health Services, marijuana’s active ingredient THC (tetrahydracannabinol) could cause those who smoke it to experience some of the following common side effects: slowed reflexes, mild elation, paranoia or anxiety, reduced short-term memory, laziness, poor depth perception, enhanced senses, faster pulse, dry mouth, redness of eyes, heightened humor or talkativeness and increased appetite.

    The THC in marijuana has these effects on people because, after two to three uses, it starts to bind with natural cannabinoid receptors in certain areas of the brain. These include areas involved in pleasure, thought, concentration, coordination, sensory perception and short-term memory.

    Many students who have used marijuana have similar stories that corresponded more or less with what the medical experts had to say. For most students, it took two to three times for pot to give them any sort of high. Once they achieved that high, the general feeling was euphoric at first, combined with tendencies to either socialize with others, laugh, think deeply, or simply “veg out” in front of the television while eating chocolate ice cream.

    Some students claim to have experienced the proverbial “bad trip,” which, according to medical experts, is a long bout of paranoia coupled with anxiety and obsessive thoughts, usually related to the fear of getting caught while being high.

    Peter, a Revelle College junior, had his own explanation of a “bad trip.”

    “If you have a bad trip because of paranoia while being high, it’s because of your own insecurities, not the pot,” he said. “The pot simply lifts your mental blocks and makes you aware of your insecurities and you get paranoid that people will see you for who you really are. So fix your issues before you smoke it.”

    There were a few others who also disagreed with what doctors have to say about pot. Tim, an Earl Warren College senior, claimed to have smoked pot 10 to 15 times before he ever felt the effects of it.

    Danny, also a Warren senior, claimed that he developed a reverse tolerance to pot and was able to get high quicker by smoking less because he learned “just how to smoke it.” In addition, he felt he had the opposite of the typical reaction.

    “I felt pot increased my attention span, as opposed to making me lazy, by allowing me to focus on just my homework. I was able to finish it more quickly that way,” he said.

    On rare occasions, people have had extreme responses to the substance, including entirely impaired judgment, temporary loss of reality and severe panic attacks.

    Paul, a Sixth College freshman, said he got so high that he lost all his judgment and his friends were able to convince him of almost anything. They told him he was a bird and coaxed him into jumping into the icy waters of a bay. He said he climbed out, soaked to the bone, muttering profanities.

    Jenna, a Sixth College freshman, said she smoked pot with her friends, and in their heightened state, they decided to play “Mario Brothers.” Not the video game, but actually play “Mario Brothers.” She was Princess Toadstool, and her other friends were Mario, Luigi and Toad. After establishing who was who, they spent their entire evening jumping from rock to rock at the local creek, slaying tree monsters so they could make it to different levels.

    Jason, an Eleanor Roosevelt College senior, said he was unaware of how powerful marijuana was, and decided to consume a lot of pot brownies with a friend one night. The student was fine for a while, but suddenly his heart started racing beyond control and he was sent into a horrible panic attack. He called the ambulance. After putting him through a series of medical examinations, he said, the medics determined he was OK and left shortly thereafter. The student was able to relax after the whole episode and, luckily for him, his parents never woke up.

    These extreme cases (if they’re true) shouldn’t be feared if you’re considering smoking pot for the first time, but they should prove a point: Everybody reacts differently to the drug. Chances are you won’t even get high the first time you try it. Nevertheless, if you’re going to experiment with marijuana, it’s always helpful to know it before you toke it.

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