What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a general, umbrella term referring to the plant Cannabis sativa and all of the products made from this plant, including various concentrated forms such as hash, wax, butter, shatter, and oil. Tetrahydrocannabinol ∆-9 (THC), the psychoactive constituent in cannabis, can also be added to food products called "edibles." Experiences with marijuana vary widely and depend on the potency of the drug taken.
Due to cannabis' classification as an illegal drug under federal law, research on the drug and its properties is limited. Information shared here has been gathered from sources including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), and Buzzed: The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy.
Use at Brandeis
According to the National College Health Assessment survey implemented in fall 2018, 70% of Brandeis undergraduates and 84% of Brandeis graduate students did not use marijuana in the last 30 days.
Methods of consumption
Cannabis most commonly smoked or eaten. When cannabis is smoked the high kicks in within 2 to 3 minutes and usually last 3 to 4 hours. When cannabis is eaten, the effects take much longer to kick in (up to 2 hours) and may produce a more hallucinogenic-type response. The high can also last a lot longer (6-8 hours).
- Cannabis has negative effects on cognitive functioning, such as learning and memory. Because it takes so long to eliminate THC from the body, a person’s cognitive functions can be affected for up to 48 hours after using.
- Some cannabis users may experience anxiety, paranoia, or panic attacks.
- Although you cannot die of a cannabis overdose, overconsumption can be very unpleasant and scary. Symptoms of overconsumption include increased heart rate, headache, anxiety, paranoid thoughts, and hallucinations.
- Cannabis use impairs sleep quality.
- Cannabis use impairs our movements and reaction times.
- Cannabis use is linked to the onset of schizophrenia in some young adults. More research is needed to better understand this link.
The long term effects of cannabis use are more common among chronic (regular) users than occasional users. As cannabis plants and products become more potent, their health risks may increase. More research is needed to fully understand the long term effects of cannabis use.
- Cannabis use is detrimental to brain development for those under the age of 25.
- Cannabis is addictive. Regular use results in an increased tolerance to, and dependency on, the drug. Withdrawal symptoms are relatively mild compared to other drugs, and last for approximately two weeks. They include irritability, restlessness, anxiety, decreased appetite, insomnia, sweating, and mild nausea.
- Chronic cannabis use is linked with anxiety and depression. More research is needed to better understand this link.
- Chronic cannabis use impacts reproductive system making it harder to have children.
- Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) is a rare illness affecting daily, chronic cannabis users. CHS involves severe, cyclic bouts of vomiting, and can only be cured by abstaining from cannabis. As rates of cannabis use are rising across the country, CHS is being diagnosed more frequently.
Harm Reduction Strategies
- Plan ahead: Don't use cannabis the day or night before something important, like class. Remember that the cognitive effects of cannabis can last for up to 48 hours.
Limit your frequency: Stick to weekends or school breaks. Take breaks from using to reset your tolerance.
- Limit intoxication: Avoid products with high concentrations of THC, such as vape oils, butter, shatter, wax, hashish, etc.
Be smart with edibles: Remember that edibles can take 1-2 hours to kick in. Plan accordingly and do not consume more until you have given it 2 hours to take effect. Remember that the high from eating cannabis lasts longer and can be more intense.
Use a designated driver: Or wait at least 6 hours before driving.
- Monitor your wellbeing: How is your mental health? Are you finding it difficult to cut back your use? Is your cannabis use affecting your social life or academics? If so, reach out to the BCC's Alcohol and Other Drug Specialist for support.
Campus Policies & State Regulations
Brandeis, like most institutions of higher education, receives federal funding and therefore must abide by federal law, which classifies cannabis as an illegal drug. For this reason, cannabis (in any form) and cannabis paraphernalia are not permitted on campus. It is also important to remember that vaping - of any kind - is not permitted inside any campus building. Brandeis' drug policy can be found in Rights & Responsibilities.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has legalized cannabis for recreational use, but there are still important state regulations that must be followed.
- Individuals must be 21 years or older to purchase, possess, or use cannabis.
- Cannabis use in any form (smoking, vaping, edibles, etc.) is not permitted in public or on federal land.
- Adults over the age of 21 can have up to 1 oz on their person, and up to 10 oz in their home.
- Adults over the age of 21 can grow up to 6 plants in their home, and up to 12 plants for 2 or more adults.
- It is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis.
- Open containers of any form of cannabis are not permitted in the passenger area of a car while on the road or at a place where the public has access. It must be stored in a closed container in the trunk or a locked glove compartment.