Photo Courtesy of MCT Campus | This summer school administrators banned the use of medical marijuana by students, even with a doctor’s prescription.
Medical marijuana policy not right solution
By Mateusz Bendisz ’15
In recent years, the United States has seen a greater effort to legalize medical marijuana.
Numerous studies have shown medical marijuana’s potential in treating different types of cancers and debilitating diseases.
Because of that, opposition to legalized medical marijuana is becoming an increasingly difficult position to defend.
Yet some opposition does persist.
At the start of the school year, Brophy instituted a new policy banning the use of medical marijuana, even with a prescription.
This policy aims to combat the “growing trend to legalize pot,” said Dean Mr. Pat Higgins.
While the dean’s words are true, this growing trend is not simply confined to marijuana, however.
There is a growing trend of drug use and abuse that extends far beyond marijuana.
In fact, we live in a world of prescriptions where the slightest mood or behavioral change is medicated.
The inability to sit still is medicated with drugs like Adderall.
Depression is medicated with a number of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), or antidepressants.
Furthermore, even with a prescription, many of these drugs have a high risk of abuse.
Zero people have died as a result of a marijuana overdose, yet 20,000 people die every year in the United States from accidental prescription drug overdoses, according to a report by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some prescription drugs also possess negative side effects.
Prescribed antidepressants, for example, come with an increased risk of suicide, particularly in adolescents.
With an academically rigorous climate, especially at an institution like Brophy, unfortunately there exists a pressure to use drugs such as Adderall in order to get ahead.
Worse, some students who have a prescription for Adderall go on to illegally distribute or sell the drug to others.
However, students can still take these medications if they have a doctor’s prescription.
“Brophy believes that any use of drugs or alcohol is detrimental,” Mr. Higgins said, citing Brophy’s Guiding Principle.
I agree: Any illicit use of drugs ought to be condemned.
But if a student were to receive a diagnosis of a debilitating illness, their use of prescribed medical marijuana would be no worse than the use of Adderall in a student with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
In fact, marijuana may even be more beneficial.
Numerous studies suggest that medical marijuana can be used to inhibit cancer growth and combat mental illnesses, with side effects including only minor inconveniences, such as dry mouth.
Side effects such as these are not as bad as the increased risk of suicide that accompanies antidepressants.
As for the high that accompanies marijuana use, a student could simply take marijuana at a time that will not leave them impaired while at school.
Arizona state law already bans actions such as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence.
If the Brophy administration is going to start banning prescription medications that they deem harmful, they should also ban other pharmaceuticals such as antidepressants.
Such medications are far more harmful than medical marijuana—a plant with minimal side effects.
Medical marijuana causes behavioral, academic problems
By Anthony Cardellini ’17
Allowing students to come to school on medical marijuana is allowing them to come here impaired, and even off-campus usage can have dangerous consequences.
Over the summer, school administrators amended the school’s drug use policy to ban medicinal marijuana, even if used off campus and even with a doctor’s prescription. While it may be true that some people with severe illnesses and chronic diseases can find relief from medical marijuana, the potential problems outweigh the known benefits when it comes to students being impaired.
Marijuana’s short and long-term side effects can have negative impacts on student academic performance and social life.
According to webmd.com, marijuana has numerous side effects that can take place within minutes of taking the medical marijuana and continue to affect users for several hours.
Some side effects include paranoia, short-term memory loss, slow reactions and “random” thinking.
What this means is that the school’s policy protects the users of marijuana as much as the rest of the school.
Remember, these effects mean that a student is driving with possible slower reactions, walking around a full campus with possible paranoia and trying to focus in class and take tests with possible short-term memory loss. The list of things that can go wrong is nearly endless.
Apart from the student himself being affected, the school’s environment can be as well. Impairment can result in harmed social behavior, and students or property can be harmed.
But why can’t you have medical marijuana off campus?
The school’s policy includes the fact that off campus use is against the handbook as well. The reason for this is once again, safety for students.
Marijuana results in addiction for one in six of all teens who try it, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This number jumps to one in four for those who use it every day.
Marijuana’s active ingredient, THC, can have harmful effects on the brain overtime. For example, it could have negative effects on learning, complicated tasks and shifting focus. Remember, because these are long-term symptoms, they can deeply harm a student’s school work and social life.
According to drugabuse.gov, “Research has shown that marijuana’s negative effects on attention, memory, and learning can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off.”
Because of these lingering effects, long-term decreased academic performance is common.
According to the same site, “Not surprisingly, evidence suggests that, compared with their nonsmoking peers, students who smoke marijuana tend to get lower grades and are more likely to drop out of high school.” In fact, the website includes a meta-analysis of 48 studies that showed marijuana users were “associated consistently with reduced educational achievement.”
Users also gave low scores on many life satisfaction questions, and said that in general, marijuana’s effect on their social life, achievements and cognitive abilities were negative.
In fact, marijuana treatment may even make depression and bipolar disorders worse.
According to the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, “Marijuana may seem to help ease depression before the effects of the drug wear off; however after that, smoking marijuana may make depression worse.”
Until future studies can show using marijuana under a doctor’s orders will not impact a student’s short or long-term ability to succeed in school, there is no reason for medical marijuana usage on or off campus.
With its anti-marijuana policy, the school is doing exactly what it should: Succeeding in supporting student safety, health and education for all of its students.