Marijuana was the talk of the city a week after I landed in Seattle to participate in SUSI 2014. Where my journalism lecturer, Sarah Stuteville asked, “Do you guys know what has been legalized in Washington from today? “
Her question led me into some surprise and curiosity as I come from Sri Lanka where the government will not even think of legalizing recreational drugs like in the United States.
For the very first time when I heard about the legalization of marijuana, my concerns were on how the legalization would affect international students as many of them are following higher education courses at UW and other institutions.
Thirty-year old Nao Sano, student from Japan said, some international students might want to try it as an American experience because in their countries to use marijuana is not allowed.
She further added that at the beginning marijuana might not attract international students seriously for addiction. However, if they feel good and are satisfied with marijuana, they may want to use twice, three times and more for fun, relaxing or good sleep, even if marijuana might have strong dependence.
“When they go back to their countries, they might want to use it again in their countries. I am also worried that if the students use marijuana they will set themselves to try stronger drugs,” Nao said.
Thilini Kahandawaarachchi, 32, student from Sri Lanka said that she feels legalization will give them access to something that they do not have access to in their home countries.
“This will result at risk because most students who come here are minors and have the potential to be easily exposed to it and eventually be addicted. Further since it is not easily accessible in their countries, most of these students have not been exposed to the adverse impacts of it and are more vulnerable to use it,” she said.
International and local students in Washington seemed to be much vigilant about drug addiction. Even if marijuana is considered as less harmful recreational drug by most of the public it was stressed and highlighted that there are chances for international students to consume harmful drugs beginning from marijuana. These students demanded that the government of Washington should be vigilant on educating the students on drug addiction.
Although marijuana is used as medicinal drugs as pain killers patients should be educated by the government to be more cautious on addiction.
However various medical researches add that marijuana is non addictive but it has been the mentality of people as to drugs are generally addictive, letting them to worry more.
Meanwhile, Lucas Sales Policarpo, 19, student from Brazil adds that every situation will depend on the student. When going to other countries, everyone is going to face a new situation, and so the adaptation to the new culture is a part of it, yet for sure it will affect the life of a student, but how much will depend on the student and his or her decisions.
Policarpo explained that however, the worse possibility is when international students who never used or tried it, become addicted to it, it may cause him or her some major problems.
However Policarpo said “As an international student, at first I was in favour of the law on legalizing marijuana as I believe in liberalization. Yet, after the legalization people became more selfish and lost respect on each other while consuming the drug.
He further stressed that people do not care whether the person next to them do like the smell of marijuana or not , this is because they are not against the law. Therefore I did not want to support the legalization anymore.
Xinglu Yao, 22 student from China exclaimed that “Legalizing marijuana increases international students’ chances of encountering marijuana. Although an international student cannot purchase marijuana simply for recreational activities, he or she may frequently encounter such activities. It is dangerous when international students are used to such encounters. “
Johnny Chou, student from Taiwan said, “I think it really doesn’t matter if it is someone not american or american to consume marijuana, since everyone should be equal.”
Meanwhile, Kahandawaarachchi and Yao urge that international students needed to be educated about the drug items and the legalization of marijuana if they are to study in Washington. I personally feel that the government should implement an awareness programme among international students.
As Yao, student from China further explained that the local government body of Washington should put more focus on education; educating the dangerous effects of marijuana, while giving the priority and importance to raise awareness that marijuana, although legalized, is still a drug that should not be touched.
Also Kahandawaarachchi, student from Sri Lanka added that it is important to discuss with international students and make them aware of the adverse impacts of consuming marijuana as well as other harmful drug items when they arrive to Washington.
I feel that students entering Washington should be more cautious on drug addiction as marijuana is not a legalized drug in many of the other countries. Impact on international students will depend on a person’s addiction level also on their choice to consume more or less cannabis. Yet as students mentioned above even if marijuana is a mild drug, addiction to it can result in getting exposed to various other harmful drugs.
Concerns to be liberal as a state is quite important and curbing criminal activities too is essential yet, international students are mostly getting affected as they do not know the seriousness of drug addiction and most of the other countries in the word will never think of legalizing any sort of drug items like in the United States where liberal thoughts are welcomed.
Do you think I may want to try smoking some marijuana while in Washington? No! But it is a great experience to be in a state which has legalized recreational drugs like marijuana and weed , where it is illegal back in my home country.