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School stress goes up in smoke

With looming deadlines and crammed schedules, students may find it difficult to manage their stress or get a decent night’s sleep.

A solution for some?

Hitting the bong after hitting the books.

“It helps me relax after writing a paper or a long day at school,” said third-year general arts and science student Carlos Prieto. “But if I smoke instead of doing homework I become unproductive. So it’s a double-edged sword.”

Marijuana can impair concentration, attention span, short-term memory, problem solving and performance. Depending on the strain, it may also cause drowsiness and increased appetite. Many use cannabis as a sleep aid and to help relax as an alternative to alcohol.

The 2016 National College Health Assessment Survey, which took a sample of 41 Canadian post-secondary institutions, suggested that 58.4 per cent of post-secondary students had never used marijuana, 23.7 per cent had used it at some point, 15.4 per cent used cannabis sometime within the past month, with the remaining 2.5 per cent reported using cannabis daily.

“Usually, I try not to smoke during the weekdays or if I have to do school stuff on the weekend,” said Prieto. “I treat it as a prize I have to win.”

Prieto avoids smoking during exam time, opting to be completely sober so he doesn’t risk failing. “I found the balance, but it’s hard to keep that balance.”

Algonquin’s Security Services statistics from the 2016-2017 school year show there were approximately 350 reported drug incidents, which include possession, trafficking, and information incidents related to drugs. Of those 350, 70 reports came from the college’s residence, a 54 per cent decrease from the previous year.

When living in student housing that included students from Algonquin, Carleton and uOttawa, obtaining marijuana was simple.

“We had like four dealers in the building that I knew of,” said Prieto. “It was so accessible, just an elevator ride away.”

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction found that in 2015, cannabis use nationwide by youth 15 to 24 years old (25.5 per cent) was more than two times higher than those over the age of 25 (9.9 per cent).

“I would say 95 per cent of the people I’m around smoke,” said Prieto.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana on the horizon, easier access may mean an increase in use.

An October 2017 Maclean’s article points out that post-secondary institutions will need to lay out new policies to put in motion after nation-wide legalization, stating whether cannabis can be consumed or sold on campus.

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