Everyone knows “it” is going on, but very few people are talking about it on campus. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some things simply sit a while before they are brought up, and that’s natural.

Pot has a history on this campus, just as it does on every college campus. The issue is like a piece of driftwood lying lifeless on a beach. Every day it is touched by little waves, but occasionally a monster set rolls in and the driftwood is pushed a mile beyond the tide line.

This issue operates on both an individual and a community level. Occasionally, an individual is overwhelmed by a realization — maybe they are addicted, maybe they don’t belong at Prin, or maybe their roommate needs help.

On a community level, it seems that the storm that builds the swell and moves the issue has been brewing for a while now. Maybe it’s time to talk about things. Let’s start that discussion.

As honesty is the only foundation from which we can actually get at this issue, and freedom from judgment is the only preserving quality with which we can continue this conversation, all individuals who have graciously agreed to be interviewed will remain anonymous.

As one interviewee explained: “Getting high makes you feel ‘floofy.’ Drugs take you beyond yourself. They literally make you go crazy; it’s like being in the back seat of a moving car while no one is driving.” Perhaps the sensation is beyond words; if you’ve been there, you’ve been there.

Another interviewee described it plainly: “Sometimes, I was really nervous. High and nervous: the worst combination in the world. The euphoria was still there, but it wasn’t at all fun, especially afterwards.” They continued, “The next day I couldn’t function. No matter how great the high was, it always boomeranged back into my gut the next day. The worst part was having responsibilities that I really meant to do well in. But I was failing at those things more than ever. … Sometimes, and I’ll call it an addiction for simplicity’s sake, the addiction took preceden[ce] over the things that I used to put at the top of my list.”

A third interviewee mentioned a subtle change in their schedule over time which reflected new values but still leeched onto old ones.  “It all escalated. By my [high school] senior year I was doing ecstasy and cocaine. And I always felt sick. There was a direct correlation between getting sick and doing those things.” The interviewee said this behavior continued in college. “[At Prin], I felt like I was living two lives. Good Jane that went to church and was sober on Sundays, and bad Jane that partied and drank and did drugs.”

The interviewee went on to say: “I was addicted to the [pot] culture … there was something about being associated with this culture: it seems bigger than you, and that’s appealing. There is also this sense of doing something illegal, which is exciting.” This interviewee found themselves at odds between the crazed appeal of getting high and maintaining an otherwise “normal life.” While referring to their use of pot at Prin: “I would sneak out to be a part of this shadow culture that, during the day, I would ignore my association with; and not just the culture, but everyone associated with it.”

This interviewee succinctly defined addiction as the following: “It’s what you fantasize about. It’s what consumes your thought. It’s not only a body thing, but it is very much a mental thing as well.”

I presume this is a definition we can all relate to. (By this definition, I would admittedly be addicted to running.)

Among those interviewed, one similarity was that the primary concern associated with smoking is the fear of judgment both by authorities and by peers, rather than being concerned with health.

Speaking very generally, there can be a perception from the non-smokers that a person who smokes pot, or who has ever smoked pot, remains labeled as one who smokes or used to smoke pot — and that’s it, that’s who that person is! This is an incredibly limiting perspective for all, including both those who are still struggling with addiction and those who may have reformed their habits.

I was astonished by the response of one interviewee’s friend when they heard, for the first time, of the interviewee’s past habits. The friend’s whole demeanor changed, and it was clear that their view of the interviewee had shifted.

Let’s be honest. We care about one another despite past faults or missteps. Perhaps the expression of this care is reduced through the haste of a day or while judging someone else’s actions. Unconditional Love is where we naturally begin, and the rest is just a digression.

I believe sincere care for one another is truthfully what has been missing in most people’s thought. There is not much to argue with regarding the drug’s illicit nature or its effects on the human mind. Everyone knows marijuana is against policy, yet at times the bluffs reek of the stuff. So why has drug use primarily been a concern of administrators and not all students? Isn’t it time to blow this issue out of the water and examine it more closely as a community?

You decide: should we be focused on solving a pot issue, or a lack of care issue? The intent of this article is not to get involved in evaluating people’s personalities, but to point out that we can be open in sharing care and compassion for each other. We are a Christian community. It is our responsibility to support our brothers and sisters, to love them, respect them, and cherish them.