When it comes to marijuana use and legalization in this country, whether you’re in complete support or against it, it’s hard to deny that everyone from high schoolers to political figureheads have been throwing in their two cents recently. 

 Karen Pelc, RIT’s coordinator for Wellness Education, and Jessica Ecock of the Center for Student Conduct hoped to set the record straight on common marijuana myths this past Wednesday, April 16. During their presentation, aptly entitled “Up in Smoke - Let’s Talk About Pot,” Pelc and Ecock addressed a small gathering of students in the Center for Campus Life about marijuana and its potentially dangerous side-effects.

While both Pelc and Ecock were concise in providing both sides of the marijuana legalization argument (even stating at one point that cannabis is a “beautiful plant”) by acknowledging its recorded benefits, she also placed a great deal of emphasis on the harm it can do to young enthusiasts.

“There is no safe smoke,” Pelc said during her presentation. 

Pelc frequently stated her alleged objectivity on the subject, saying at one point, “We just want to give you things to talk about.”

“There is no drug that has been approved by the FDA that has ever been smoked,” Pelc said. “They are going to release several more drugs derived from marijuana that have been cleared by the FDA in 2015 that are administered in pill form.”

On top of this, Pelc also pointed out that getting marijuana impacts the body in several different ways, many of which are more intense than the effects experienced from marijuana that existed decades ago.

“Marijuana affects the rewards center of the brain,”  Mrs. Pelc said. “It affects not only physical pain but social pain as well, and the pot that’s being grown now is more intense than the pot they were growing in the ‘60s and ‘70s.”

Pelc made their underlying message very clear to those in attendance, stating, “Our message is maybe unrealistic, to abstain from marijuana, but it can be dangerous especially if you don’t know the person you’re buying it from.”

Pelc also addressed marijuana’s potentially harmful consequences as they relate to RIT students.

“If you smoke enough dope, you get sloppy and you get caught,” Pelc warned.

“We’ve had students that have lost their careers here because they’ve sold dope. The university is very straightforward with this. If you get caught selling drugs on campus, you get suspended for a year.”

While “Up in Smoke” occasionally veered into some lighter subject matter such as addressing stereotypical “identifiers” for marijuana users (used sandwich baggies, weight gain, etc.), the talk carried a serious and professional air overall.

“It’s still a drug,” Mrs. Pelc said during Q&A with students. “It still has an effect on you in some way, shape or form. Stuff that you do here can have an effect later on.”