Welcome to the University of Marijuana

Would you be surprised if I told you that Colombia, a country notorious for its cocaine, is actually better known for its marijuana?

weed

by duncan on Flickr

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.

girl smokes weed

by maplessinseattle on Flickr

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?

  • Anonymous

    According to your logic all activities other than studying should be left out of college, such as track, football, swimming, etc. In your world people are not capable of going to school AND doing other things.

    I know (also kinda hope) you are probably not a journalist, otherwise you would research the subject you are writing about. There are universities that operate with government budget but are independent from their scrutiny, they call these universities “autonomous”. This also means that the campus is public, but all security is handled by the school instead of the police. Essentially, what happens is that if a security guy sees you smoking marijuana, he will politely ask you to stop instead of ruining your life with drug possession charges, like in oh so many places around the world. Because, you know… it’s so insignificant.

    It would be awesome if you grew up and stopped judging people for things you don’t seem to even understand.

  • Hmm I’m not sure you understood my article at all.

    “According to your logic all activities other than studying should be left out of college, such as track, football, swimming, etc. In your world people are not capable of going to school AND doing other things.” – Where did I write this in my article? When I went to college, I was working full time, going to school full time, and involved in other activities outside of campus. Of course I think people are capable of doing other things while going to school.

    I’m also aware that security on this particular campus is private… though I didn’t see any of them around – something rare in Colombia.

    As far as judgment, as I stated in my article I am impartial to the use of marijuana. I was only offering commentary that there was a lot of smoking on campus and it surprised me.

  • Anonymous

    “But on campus? I’m not sure if the students are working towards a degree or perfecting their blunt rolling technique.”

  • Maybe I should change the sentence to: “Looks like the students are double enrolled in traditional subjects and the art of blunt rolling.”

  • Students smoking on campuses is nothing new or to be alarmed about. If you can handle schoolwork and getting high, then no big deal. However, smoking inside a classroom, now that’s crazy. Not everyone is trying to get high, and I wouldn’t appreciate someone trying to hotbox a class while I’m trying to get my learning on.

  • I appreciate your sentiments. While some of my college days were somewhat hazy, and though I would make some wiser choices if I went back, my grades ended up being fine.

    Re: the classroom turned hotbox, there wasn’t class being conducted at the time so that wasn’t an issue :)

  • Ed

    Maybe it’s a Bogota thing. I spent 4 months in Medellin and was never offered marijuana. But got offered some my first night in Bogota.

  • Hmmm my experience is different… according to the article, weed is smoked more in Medellin than any other Colombian city. I guess it depends on who you happen to come across.