Connecticut campuses will face legal drugs

Connecticut is the 21st state to legalize marijuana. The law came into effect on July 1, and legal sales could begin as early as May 2022. The legalization of marijuana in Connecticut presents many challenges for college and university administrators. Excessive use of marijuana can lead to the same problems as those caused by excessive alcohol consumption like erratic driving, fights, vandalism, theft, etc. This is due to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component in marijuana that causes impairment, i.e. decreased judgment and motor functions.

Most alcohol-free campuses are, or most likely will be, marijuana-free campuses as well. The main issue for campus public health officials is enforcing the rules around marijuana impairment by smoking, vaping, or eating marijuana in brownies and other foods.

Public health officials investigating driving and other issues on campus face a problem determining impairment because urine and blood tests are not helpful. Marijuana can be present in an individual’s system, but the debilitation is not confirmed at the time of testing. This is because marijuana can stay in the system for up to 30 days.

Connecticut higher education administrators might consider using the Druid application. This app accurately detects impaired by marijuana and other drugs. DRUID is an acronym for “Driving Under the Influence of Drugs”. Researchers reported that DRUID was the most sensitive marijuana cognitive impairment test among 10 tests reviewed.

An explanation of how the DRUID application works is too long for this column. What is important is that the app displays the highest level of impairment within 30 to 45 minutes of inhaling marijuana. This deficiency decreases over a period of two to three hours. Campus public health officials can use this app to enforce the rules. Also, students can use this app to determine their level of impairment related to marijuana, alcohol and other substances.

Most colleges and universities have substance abuse prevention programs. These programs educate students about the impact alcohol, marijuana and other drugs can have on their bodies, judgment and behavior. This education understands the harmful effects and legal consequences of these psychotropic drugs. The focus was on alcohol abuse. The challenge now is for schools to scale up education efforts related to marijuana abuse to the level of alcohol abuse. New approaches are needed to meet this challenge.

A new approach is for drug prevention specialists to teach students how to use the DRUID APP. Students who know their impairment score for marijuana, alcohol, and other substances can make better decisions about driving and participating in other dangerous activities.

C. Kevin Synnott, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Business Administration at Eastern Connecticut State University Management and marketing.

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