Cannabis use disorder (CUD), a clinical diagnosis arrived at when use results in dysfunction in one or more of life’s arenas -- school, work or interpersonal relationships -- is a real and underappreciated risk of regular use.
A 2008 study using face-to-face interviews of more than 1,200 first-year college students noted a 9.7 percent prevalence of CUD among all first-year students and 24.5 percent prevalence among students who reported any use in the preceding year.
For the most part, we have decided that it’s safe, as reflected in the decline of American high school seniors who perceive great risk in regular marijuana use from 58 percent in 2005 to 31.9 percent in 2015.
So it’s not surprising that legalization of cannabis has gained traction at the state level.
As a higher education community, our thinking about cannabis is at a point where our perceptions regarding the risks of high-risk drinking were decades ago.
Not perceiving its serious downsides, we are inclined to accept and even normalize use in consonance with the views of broader society and set a bar far too low.
Psychotic events are uncommon but regular occurrences in the traditional college-age population, and as one would expect, have devastating and long-term impacts on both the individual and the family system.
Anxiety and depressive disorder, while perhaps less dramatic in presentation, often results in a blunted ability to engage effectively in academic life and to function at one’s potential.
In order to comply with the law, institutions that receive federal funding will still need to prohibit the possession of cannabis on their campuses.
But on the other hand, if we in higher education are willing to go deeper on this issue, these developments afford colleges and universities the opportunity to clearly articulate the misalignment between regular cannabis use by students and our core institutional mission to fully engage them in intellectual and extracurricular life.