As pot smokers seek the ideal spot to sneak in a less-than-legal toke on campus, they cautiously rubberneck for signs of authority.
While recreational marijuana legalization was likely the highlight of 2018 for California stoners, the herb is still not permitted on campus. The Student Health Resource Center plans to address lingering questions students may have about policies surrounding the drug.
As a component of the Wellness Wednesday workshops, “What’s the 4-1-1 on 4/20?” will take place from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Room 303 of the University Student Union April 18.
Wellness Wednesday is a series that consists of a weekly session hosted by staff at Student Health Services. Geared toward providing knowledge on a variety of health and lifestyle trends, the workshop centered on marijuana use will aim to talk cannabis with students.
According to Heidi Ortiz, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs coordinator at the resource center, marijuana education has been a component of the program offered at Cal State Long Beach. Despite previous counseling programs that addressed cannabis abuse, this is the first time that the topic is scheduled to dominate the discussion of a Wellness Wednesday.
“We’re always thinking of new things to talk about,” Ortiz said. “With the recent changes that have happened, there’s been a lot of questions about [marijuana]. I think there’s been a lot of students that I’ve encountered who kind of have misperceptions. We felt it was necessary to be clearer about campus policy.”
Ortiz wants students to know that while the intent of the workshop is “information dissemination” of legislation, they also aim to focus on harm reduction and abuse prevention.
“The campus’ stance on it is still…‘This is a federally funded institution, you absolutely cannot have it,’” Ortiz said. “Our stance has not changed one bit.”
Repercussions for bringing the herb onto campus are listed online in the policies section of the program website and will be covered in the workshop.
“Our kind of approach in anything that we do in ATOD has been harm reduction or risk reduction, never abstinence,” Ortiz said. “So with marijuana we know…you can’t do it on campus. But if you choose to [do it at home] let’s talk about DIY prevention, let’s talk about edibles. It’s very informative, very educational, our attitudes are never don’t do this don’t do that, it just doesn’t work.”
Students on campus have expressed mixed opinions on the workshop and some admitted that it did not appeal to them.
“[It’s] nothing I’d be interested in going to,” said junior Theodore Vo, majoring in health science. “I would say cannabis on campus is pretty common, it’s just well hidden. I was addicted at one point to cannabis, I had an emotional addiction. [When I did] I wouldn’t go out there to try to get more help, I would try to fix it on my own, which I did.”
Daniel Yepez, a senior majoring in anthropology, said he’d be interested in attending the workshop.
“There hasn’t been enough information out there for the general public to understand more of the medicinal purposes of cannabis,” Yepez said. “And I’d just be interested to find out more [about] that and recreational use, because California just approved it. So yeah, I would interested to see what the policies would be [on campus].”
Ortiz specified that while students may be curious about medicinal cannabis, the subject will not be the focus of the Wellness Wednesday.
Though medicinal purposes of marijuana will not be touched on at “What’s the 4-1-1 on 4/20?” the health resources center issues an evaluation at the conclusion of every workshop to encourage student suggestions. This feedback can result in the creation of new programs addressing a variety of issues.
“I think after this we will be able to see what else might be needed,” Ortiz said. “Definitely we would talk about doing something else on campus that can address [medicinal use]. We want to do things based on the need and interest [of students] too.”
Eddie Diaz contributed to this article.