Most IUP students report self-medicating with marijuana

Corey S. Simpson, management information systems major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, in his off-campus apartment, April 27, 2016. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

Corey S. Simpson, management information systems major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, in his off-campus apartment, April 27, 2016. Photo by Logan Hullinger.

By Logan Hullinger

INDIANA — Most students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania report using marijuana, a recent email survey shows. And of those users, more than half say they do it daily.

The survey, sent to 1,000 undergraduates on April 21, found that 60 percent said they smoke marijuana or consume marijuana-related products. Of users, 55 percent said they get high every day. (See survey details in Sidebar 1, below.)

Marijuana recently made headlines in the Keystone State when Gov. Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 3 on April 17 to legalize it for medical use. (State Sen. Don White, R-Indiana, and state Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana, voted for the measure.)

Full implementation of the law may require as long as two years. But some IUP students have moved beyond marking their calendars.

Thirty-two percent of surveyed IUP students said they use marijuana for self-medication. More than one-fifth — 22 percent –- said they plan to obtain a prescription for medical cannabis when the Pennsylvania program takes full effect.

However, they may need to do some homework about the law’s narrow definitions of ailments acceptable for treatment. The law allows prescriptions only for “serious medical conditions,” such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy.

 

COREY S. Simpson, a sophomore management information systems major at IUP, acknowledged his regular use of marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes during an April 27 interview at his off-campus apartment.

“Not many can say they solely rely on marijuana for medical relief,” Simpson said. “It’s often recreational. But I fully believe in its medicinal value.”

Medicinal value lies in marijuana’s effect on his diagnosed depression, Simpson said. His family doctor prescribed Lexapro. But that only tones down his depression. Marijuana does more.

“It does wonders to take my mind off negative thoughts,” Simpson said. “Marijuana use for depression, as well as many other diseases and illnesses, should definitely be explored as a viable option. It’s unfortunate it’s not currently legal. But it isn’t for everyone, just like any medication you’d be prescribed.”

Depression is not listed among the Pennsylvania law’s serious medical conditions. But recent research has suggested that compounds in marijuana may help reduce depression stemming from chronic stress.

 

MEANWHILE, recreational use still causes legal headaches, police say.

“Marijuana arrests and seizures have gone way up in the last couple years,” Lt. Anthony J. Clement of the Indiana Borough Police Department said in an April 22 email interview. He linked the local trends to the weed “being legalized in various forms out West.”


Chart 1: Marijuana offenses, Indiana, Pa. 2008-2015

Year                Possession

2015                95
2014                143
2013                108
2010                85
2008               49

Source: Indiana, Pa., police department


The data show local arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana nearly tripling between 2008 and 2014, with variations in between.

At IUP, the campus police department’s October 2015 annual security report published numbers of drug offenses. But the report did not break out data for marijuana. The overall drug-bust numbers for the main campus declined by 18 percent over the three-year period.



Chart 2: Drug-law offense data, IUP, 2012-2014

Year                Arrests

2014                70
2013                87
2012                86

Source: Indiana University of Pennsylvania 2015 annual security report


IUP police also reported drug-violation referrals — violations sent to the university student-conduct system for adjudication. Those numbers more than doubled.


Chart 3: Drug-offense referrals to IUP campus authorities, 2012-2014

Year                Referrals

2014                98
2013                58
2012                44

Source: Indiana University of Pennsylvania 2015 annual security report


PITTSBURGH and Philadelphia already have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Not in Indiana, however.

“Decriminalization would be a good start,” Simpson said. “It was only criminalized due to negative propaganda in the first place. The generation before us has misguided anger towards the drug due to the negative exposure they received in their lifetimes.”

Logan Hullinger, a sophomore journalism major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from Clarion, is a staff reporter for The HawkEye. He can be contacted at L.R.Hullinger@iup.edu.

 

Sidebar 1: Qualtrics survey results

Data below report IUP students’ responses to questions marijuana use for recreational and medicinal use. The eight-item questionnaire (full text in sidebar below) was emailed to 1,000 undergraduate students on April 21. The survey, distributed using the IUP Applied Research Lab Qualtrics polling tool, closed on April 28.

Responses were received from 73 students, a response rate of 7.3 percent. The margin of error is 2.9 percentage points.

A summary of the responses:

* 60 percent of students reported smoking or consuming marijuana or related products.

* 55 percent of those users smoke on a daily basis.

* 32 percent of all respondents said they use marijuana to self-medicate.

* 22 percent of students said they have a medical condition that would allow them to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana when the new state law goes into effect by 2018.

* 26 percent of students said they plan to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana when dispensaries open over the next two years.

 

Sidebar 2: Qualtrics survey questionnaire

Following is the text of an eight-item questionnaire emailed to 1,000 IUP undergraduate students on April 21.

My name is Logan Hullinger. I am a sophomore IUP journalism major conducting this survey for a news story about marijuana usage by IUP students.

Individual survey responses will be anonymous. Aggregated anonymous response data may be published in the The HawkEye, published by IUP journalism professor David Loomis.

If you are willing to be interviewed by a reporter, you may provide your contact information at the conclusion of this questionnaire.

Some background: On April 17, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law legislation legalizing marijuana for medical use. Pennsylvania is the twenty-fourth state to legalize medical cannabis, and will allow up to 150 dispensaries to be opened across the state. While the statute permits only prescriptions for ‘serious medical conditions,’ such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, the passing of the bill is bound to bring in significant revenue to the state, news media have reported.

The questionnaire follows:

1. What gender do you identify as?
Male
Female

2. What is your age?
18
19
20
21
22 or older

3. Do you smoke or consume marijuana/marijuana products?
Yes
No

4. How often do you smoke marijuana?
Daily
Once a week
Once a month
Once a year
Never

5. Do you use marijuana for self-medication purposes?
Yes
No

6. Do you have any medical conditions that are deemed acceptable to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania? [List: https://www.marijuanadoctors.com/medical-marijuana/PA/qualification ]
Yes
No
I don’t know

7. Do you plan to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana when the program rolls out in 18-24 months?
Yes
No

8. If you would like to be interviewed by a reporter about this, please provide your contact information.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Top Stories, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s