Web Exclusive: “Clearing the Haze”

“Clearing the Haze,” held on March 5, was not a political discussion, but rather a scientific presentation. The main goal of the night was to educate students on both the positive and negative effects of marijuana use in a safe environment.

“We’re not here to tell you what to do, we’re here to present the facts,” Prevention and Education Coordinator and director of “Clearing the Haze”, Jessie Ensenberger said.

Rather than waiting around, Ensenberger took action and put together a group of educated speakers for the presentation. The speakers included: Ensenberger, Assistant Professor of Human Health and Performance Scott Ringgenberg; S.A.F.E. Grant County Coalition Projects Director Kathy Marty; and University Police Sergeant Jason Williams.

“Students needed to have this information, and I was tired of waiting for an expert to come in to talk to them,” Ensenberger said.

Before the presentation began, those in attendance took a short survey and were able to anonymously submit questions. The speakers then gave a short introduction and overview of what they would be covering. Topics included; what marijuana is, how marijuana works in the brain, long- and short-term effects, medical marijuana, the law and campus policies, safety tips and resources.

After a brief introduction, those that attended took a second survey, this time on their phones. They were told to use a fake name while answering the questions so that the results would remain anonymous. The first question asked them what they believe are the positive effects of marijuana, and the second asked what they believe are the negative effects. All of the answers were assembled in a word graph, and the most common answers were the largest. On the positive effects results, “stress reliever” and “relaxation” were two of the largest, while “short term memory loss” and “lack of motivation” were the largest words on the negative effect’s results. The speakers found the results interesting yet unsurprising.

While some students attended to receive extra credit, others came because they possessed a genuine interest in the topic.

“The whole drug concept interests me and I want to pursue a career in the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency] or FBI,” freshman criminal justice major McKenzie Kubisiak said.

Kubisiak also stated that the solid facts were the most interesting, especially because there is not much solid research available yet. Since recreational marijuana is only legal in four states, there is limited research on it. The speakers encouraged the participants to be skeptical of any information they find.

“Make good, logical choices with what you read,” Ringgenberg said.