Would you be surprised if I told you that Colombia, a country notorious for its cocaine, is actually better known for its marijuana?
On Friday, I had the opportunity to spend time on a university campus outside of Bogotá. While my visit inspired several stories to write and issues to explore, the one I had least anticipated was the widespread use of pot on campus.
Students sprawl on the lawn in groups of 3 or 4, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the heat of smoke filling their lungs. A couple of friends meet with their supplier in the courtyard, casually swapping a fistful of pesos for a quart as if returning a borrowed pen.
While the sight of weed is hardly surprising in Colombia – you’d be hard-pressed to find yourself in a social situation here without a joint or two present – the setting and the accompanying nonchalance was unexpected. The use of marijuana is so highly integrated into this campus that it almost seems like a prerequisite to enroll.
Pen? Check. Text book? Check. Spliff? Double check.
A few students even informed visitors, in a very blasé way, that they could smoke inside of a classroom. In disbelief, the visitors asked them to clarify. “Of course you can smoke here,” they replied casually, as if permission had been asked to use the bathroom.
In a report conducted by the United Nations and published on Caracol, marijuana is the drug most consumed in Colombia with an estimated 450,000 users. I’d argue that this number is much higher. And on campus? I couldn’t even guess – though I’m sure the denial of a puff puff pass would be met with confused expressions and shrugs.
Personally, I’m impartial to the use of marijuana. I certainly experienced many mind-altering states during my college years, and I don’t come from a place where smoking weed is unusual. But on campus? I’m not sure if the students are working towards a degree or perfecting their blunt rolling technique.
What do you think?