Marijuana Use, Then and Now, on College Campuses in Colorado


 I live overseas in North Africa, but my home state in America is Colorado.  Colorado is one of the two states which just voted to make marijuana legal.

Yesterday at home, I was sorting through some old boxes and came across the letters I had received while in high school and college.  Most were now moldy, and I was reading through them one last time before tossing them all these years later.

2011 Boulder annual “420 Pot-Smoking Rally” on the University of Colorado campus

To my surprise, in letters from 1973, I had a friend at the University of Colorado in Boulder, who said, “If you don’t smoke grass, there is nothing to do on the weekends.”  He wasn’t a smoker, but implied most people around him were.

In another letter, from my boyfriend, who was a serious student at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley,  said, “I went to a party this weekend where there was only supposed to be beer.  But when I got there, there was a pile of marijuana at least three inches high.  Everyone was rolling cigarettes (with the marijuana) and passing them around.  I passed five (marijuana cigarettes) by to other people, but I didn’t try them myself.   Everyone was stoned.”

Mass exhale of marijuana smoke on the University of Colorado at Boulder campus in 2010, at the annual “420 Pot-Smoking Rally.”

I know a student currently at the University of Northern Colorado.  I asked her what the reaction was on campus to the new law.  She told me all the college students voted for it, and many were running around shouting, “Yay!” with their arms in the air after hearing that the new law passed.  But I don’t think everyone is using it.  The student I know told me that she’s been to a couple parties where she smelled the marijuana smoke in the air, but didn’t actually see any marijuana.

I’m sure I must have been around people who used drugs, but I never associated closely enough with them to know that they really were, other than some cousins I had who used marijuana during the hippy era.  I also attended a couple of parties (in Cape Girardeau, Missouri) where I smelled the marijuana smoke in the air, but never actually saw the product myself.   I used to hear during the 1980s that one or two people I knew in business were using cocaine, but I didn’t know whether to believe it or not.

Interestingly, I’ve lived in North Africa for twenty years, and I hear that tourists are always offered marijuana in the souk.  Yet it’s never happened to me.  My husband (a local) says it’s because, “You don’t look like the type of person who would want it,” which is true!  But with it happening to so many others, I felt a little disappointed that I’d never even been asked, or approached.

I don’t know what the percentage of marijuana users in U.S. colleges was then, or is now, but I’m going to guess the percentages were/are similar.  I’m going to guess that back then, 30-40% of people tried it once, and that maybe 15-20% of people might have been regular users in college (and far fewer once they got out of college).

Legal marijuana clinic in Colorado, prior to marijuana being legalized for everyone.

I’m going to guess that with this new law, maybe 60-70% of youth may try it once, and maybe 30% might turn into regular long-term users.  In April, 2012, a marijuana-smoking rally at CU Boulder attracted 10,000 participants.  But it should be remembered that Boulder has 30,000 students, which means that 2/3 did not attend.

I predict it will be a novelty for a generation, and as health problems start to show up in regular users (such as happened with tobacco cigarettes), people will try to quit, and it will become thought low-class to be a pot-smoker, as has happened today with cigarettes.

–Lynne Diligent

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3 Responses to “Marijuana Use, Then and Now, on College Campuses in Colorado”

  1. Lynne Diligent Says:

    From J.B. on LInkedIn: “What this tells me, like a cigarette smoker, people often start because of the groups they mix in because it is the in-thing to do, then later in life, begin to hear about the possible dangers, begin to notice feelings that don’t seem quite right, and they search out for ways to release the habit. And whilst some of them will do that cold turkey without a problem, others will need help to do this because of ‘behind the scenes’ problems.”

  2. Susanna Perkins Says:

    Interesting. . . I would think it would correlate more closely with alcohol consumption than tobacco smoking. . .

  3. Evan Says:

    the last thing you stated… “I predict it will be a novelty for a generation, and as health problems start to show up in regular users (such as happened with tobacco cigarettes), people will try to quit, and it will become thought low-class to be a pot-smoker, as has happened today with cigarettes.” You seemed like an intelligent person throughout the entire article until then. The drug has been around for a long time like tobacco. There are huge differences between the two and there is medical evidence to back it up. I know the people from Colorado are heavily educated on this since i go to Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. The whole, “it gives you lung diseases/cancer” statement is a myth. Why would it be given out so freely through their medical system if it gave people health issues? I was born in 92 and I remember as a kid they (DARE) would always try so hard to tell us how bad marijuana, along with other drugs were for our health. As we grew older, we could see the truth. More and more kids started to smoke it, and less and less began to view it as a problem/health risk. It will be totally legal by the time my generation is in power, guaranteed.

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