Tolerance grows for marijuana in US due to recent legalization

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As states such as Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana, it seems that tolerance may waft eastward.

A University student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her experience with the drug has been positive.

She started smoking when she was a freshman in high school because it was “just the thing to do.”

She compared the drug to alcohol, and said she doesn’t understand why it isn’t legal when alcohol is.

“I think it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be in a lot of media,” she said.

Associate Professor of criminal justice Melissa Burek said views toward marijuana have softened through the years, and said legalizing the drug will be telling for future legislation throughout the country.

“I think Colorado is going to be our big test case,” Burek said.

Burek also said some see marijuana in a better light than cigarettes, citing the recent campus smoking ban, which went into effect this semester.

“There seems to be more of an acceptance of marijuana smoking than cigarette smoking today,” she said.

The student said she now uses it sooth her nerves because of its calming affect.

“I personally struggle with anxiety and it helps me calm [down],” she said.

One of the reasons for this acceptance of the drug is that some see it as less dangerous than substances such as alcohol, Burek said.

Burek said dangers such as drunk driving, alcohol poisoning and violent behavior can make alcohol a more hazardous substance than marijuana.

Det. Scott Sauer of campus police said he’d rather deal with a marijuana user than an alcohol user, because of the fact that the latter can lead to violent behavior.

Although the drug is gaining acceptance, it is still a problem at the University. Sauer said marijuana use is one of the biggest crimes in the city next to alcohol.

This past year, city police made 362 drug-related arrests, said Maj. Tony Hetrick.

Sauer said marijuana is such a popular drug because it’s cheap, easy to get and is becoming more accepted throughout the country. He said “Ohio is not far behind” in becoming the next state to legalize the drug.

Hetrick said the police often patrol for marijuana in parking lots. When they see someone in their car for a significant amount of time, it is usually an indicator that someone is using the drug.

When someone is caught with any amount of marijuana that can be weighed, they are criminally charged, Sauer said.

Hetrick said possession of less than 100 grams is a minor misdemeanor. If a student gets caught and is a first time offender, they must go through a drug diversion program.

Even if a student is found with a miniscule amount of the drug, they are issued for disciplinary action by the University.

If a student is caught with marijuana, they are placed on academic probation and assigned a drug counselor, which comes with a $200 fee, said Associate Dean of Students Michael Ginsburg.

“Years ago, when we started implementing those sanctions, the money was used to support the staff member as well as alcohol and drug education for other students,” he said.

If a student is caught trafficking, possessing a large amount of the drug or a repeat offender, they can be suspended.

Ginsburg said there has been an increase in marijuana-related cases during the years and said this is because of the diligence of the police in enforcement.

“[We want to] create an environment that is conducive to everyone pursuing their academics.”