With cannabis shops set to open around Massachusetts in a matter of months, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans says the smell of weed is in the air "everywhere I go."   This as the nation's college administrators sound a new warning about the impact marijuana use is having on campus.

Last Fall, Massachusetts voters decided it was a good idea to legalize pot for recreational use. The newly established Cannabis Control Commission is working out the finer details and pot shops are scheduled to open for business from Boston to Pittsfield in July of next year.

An on-line survey conducted by the MassINC polling group on behalf of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the Mary Christie Foundation was distributed to college campus administrators nationwide between September 6th and October 3rd.  524 administrators completed the survey. 744 offered responses. The results are concerning.

Campus administrators say problems associated with pot use are on the rise. They include academic performance, decreased motivation, and mental health issues. About 79% of administrators believe there should be more policies and programs to reduce marijuana use on campus, but only a third believe their school is adequately addressing the concern.

The administrators believe that officials involved in academic or student affairs are less likely to be aware of marijuana-related issues than health, residential, and safety officials.  They also say that discipline is the most likely response to a student caught with marijuana on campus and that education and counseling were much less likely to occur. Problem users are generally sent off campus for treatment as most campuses lack the proper medical personnel.

For the record, marijuana is prohibited on college campuses in all 50 states as it is still illegal under federal law.

Meanwhile, a separate study funded by the National Institutes of Health researchers found that teenagers are drinking and smoking tobacco products less frequently, but the use of marijuana-infused edibles has increased in states where medicinal marijuana has been approved.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is funding a $250,000 study on the level of marijuana use in Massachusetts in advance of the pot stores opening next year. The one year study is being conducted by researchers with the University of Massachusetts.

As for Commissioner Evans, he tells the WGBH "Boston Public Radio" program that during a recent traffic stop, he discovered three children in baby seats in the back seat of the car and there was the "stench" of marijuana coming from the vehicle.

These are our kids we are discussing. They get one shot. So sad.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Research for this blog includes material from WGBH radio, MassLIVE.com, (AP), MassINC Polling Group, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the Mary Christie Foundation

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