April 15, 2021
During the 2020 general election, Arizona residents voted in favor of Proposition 207, which was a ballot initiative that called for the legalization of recreational cannabis for anyone above the age of 21.
While Proposition 207 has already gone into effect, recreational and medical use of cannabis remains prohibited on all ASU campuses. The Drug-Free Communities Act is a federal law that mandates that schools that receive federal funding must maintain a drug-free campus. ASU, being a public university that receives federal funding, must abide by the law despite the trend of legalization of recreational cannabis, or marijuana, across the nation.
Emma Celoza, a health educator senior, and her colleague Brenda Young, a program manager with ASU Wellness, are hoping to raise awareness of the risks associated with cannabis use as Proposition 207 goes into effect, while highlighting ASU’s values as a drug-free community that promotes well-being.
Risks of cannabis use are underestimated. Studies have shown that 1 in 10 adults who use cannabis could develop a substance use disorder and 1 in 6 adults who start using it before the age of 18 could develop a substance use disorder.
Signs of a substance use disorder include more than just an inability to quit. Some may notice that they are withdrawing from other activities, refusing to go out, experiencing a drop in grades, losing friends or damaging family relationships. Celoza and Young emphasize that when people become reliant on cannabis they tend to seek higher THC potency. Subsequently, they may be at risk for impaired memory, attention, judgment, physical performance and increased anxiety and depression.
“ASU tries to promote a healthy learning environment and promote things that contribute to students’ academic success,” Celoza said. “Think back to what some of the side effects of cannabis use are and how they can directly impact your academic success and your overall health. Those things aren't in line with what ASU promotes as a healthy learning environment.”
ASU Wellness also offers anonymous screening tools to help a person determine the risks associated with their use.
ScreenU is a confidential and anonymous online tool designed to help students understand the immediate and long-term risk for alcohol, cannabis or prescription drug misuse. After completing a series of questions, students receive substance use safety and risk-level information along with feedback and strategies to reduce risk for experiencing negative consequences. This tool is available to all ASU students no matter the time or place.
ASU Counseling Services and ASU Health Services work to ensure that any student seeking help can talk with or schedule any necessary services with licensed professionals. If you or a loved one is experiencing a substance use disorder involving cannabis, alcohol or prescription drugs, ASU Health Services and ASU Counseling Services are here to help. To request training on cannabis and its impact, please contact ASU Wellness by submitting a training request form.