The Oracle

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Higher Numbers, but not for Hamline

Despite a rise nationally with campus drug use, Hamline numbers decreased.


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A recent survey conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation for Recovery Advocacy found that there has been an increase in marijuana use across college campuses, and a decrease in the concern that students have for its health concerns.

The Institute is a leading nonprofit that provides treatment for drug addicts. The survey was co-commissioned by the Mary-Christie Foundation, in conjunction with the National Association of System Heads, and used The MassINC Polling Group for polling information. The survey that they conducted polled 744 professionals across the U.S in undergraduate education, including those from academic affairs, student affairs and student health officials.

“We conducted the survey because public attitudes seem to be shifting rapidly on marijuana,” Jeremiah Gardner, Manager of Betty Hazelden Ford Foundation for Recovery Advocacy said via email. “While the debates over marijuana legalization continue, many young people view marijuana as less risky.”

The survey found that “between 2014 and 2016, the annual prevalence of marijuana use among college students increased by 14 percent.”

Gardner says that education is the most important thing that can be done to prevent a continuous increase in the number of students abusing marijuana on college campuses.

“Education is the key. And part of that education is helping students understand marijuana in the context of all substance use,” Gardner said.“We focus too much on this drug or that drug when our focus needs to be on all substance use.”

However, despite the fact that numbers have been increasing at other schools, they seem to have significantly decreased at Hamline. According to Safety and Security’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, Drug Law Referrals on campus were reduced from 26 cases in 2015 to 8 in 2016. Interestingly enough, there was also a dramatic decrease in Liquor Law Referrals; there were 74 in 2015, and only 20 in 2016.

Andrea Vircks, Head of Safety and Security at Hamline, stated that she does not know why the numbers have decreased so significantly at Hamline, and wonders if Hamline is doing something different than other schools.

“It’s quite possible that not everyone is caught. So maybe the programming or education is working; it’s difficult to say why that happened,” Virks said.

Virks also said that one of her primary concerns with marijuana use among students on Hamline’s campus is that it could be used as a gateway drug.

“The recreational use [of marijuana] is always a concern for health reasons, but also [for] being known as a gateway drug to other illegal substances… if it’s not used for medical purposes, I would just worry about the entire process of purchasing marijuana and what else it might be laced with.”

The survey also maintains the idea that marijuana is proven to be a gateway drug.

“Marijuana use also overlaps significantly with excessive drinking and other substance use, rather than being a substitute, and is associated with mental health problems and an increased risk for psychosis in vulnerable individuals, among other health risks.”

More information on the survey can be found at, and clicking About Us, then News and Media, then Press Release, which has a link to: Survey: Students View Marijuana as Safe.  

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Higher Numbers, but not for Hamline