According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the daily use of marijuana among college-aged young adults “is at its highest since 1980.”
Marijuana is also the most commonly-found illicit drug among Troy University students, according to the university and city police.
Captain Danny Barron of the Troy Police Department said that marijuana, cocaine and meth are the three most prominently used illegal drugs in the city of Troy. The misuse of prescription drugs such as Adderall and Xanax is also prevalent among students, according to Herbert Reeves, dean of student services.
“We have seen an increase in the usage of drugs (this year) both on and off campus, and it is very concerning to us,” Reeves said.
According to Troy’s annual safety report, the number of drug-related arrests and disciplinary actions went down in 2014 compared to 2013. However, Reeves said that he expects the number to go up this year based on the incident reports he has seen so far. His office is currently processing the reports to get the final count of such offenses for 2015.
Barron said the most of the drug-related arrests made in the city are found during traffic stops.
He added that the marijuana seen in Troy pours in from all sources, from Atlanta to Colorado to California.
John McCall, chief of university police, said that students tend to think of marijuana as not just a recreational drug but also a therapeutic one, which contributes to its high usage.
“We know that there are students who are using cocaine, heroin, date rape drugs, molly (ecstasy)…,” McCall said. “They are here and present on campus, but we are not finding very much of them or at all.”
University police, in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Corrections, regularly brings sniffer dogs to campus. This academic year, these dogs have been brought to campus twice.
McCall said that the cases of students found in possession of small quantities of marijuana are fairly routine, with a couple of incidents every month.
“We are not catching students with a large quantity, selling it,” he said.
McCall said that the frequency of violations and the amount of marijuana carried affects the punishment.
Officer discretion is used to determine courses of action for minor offenses.
Possession of marijuana for personal use is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by $500 in fine.
“If they have enough of it, they can be arrested and taken to the city jail,” he said.
According to Barron, if anyone is caught with marijuana a second time and is found guilty on the second occasion as well, it is automatically a Class D felony.
Disciplinary action is taken by the university even if a criminal charge is not filed.
Reeves said that the university works with law enforcement finding ways to curtail the availability of various drugs, in addition to providing treatment and recovery support to students who come forward seeking help.
“We had a student who left school due to their addiction to drugs, specifically heroin,” Reeves said. Heroin, according to Reeves, has been making a resurgence in Alabama.
Troy partners with Bradford Health Services to provide assistance to students with rehabilitation efforts.
Reeves said that he has seen physical and emotional distress among the students who have reached out for help.
“They are withdrawn, not attending classes, doing poor academically,” he said.
Reeves said that for the university to help those struggling with drug abuse, students must be willing to accept the help provided.
Barron also suggests students to reflect on the potential consequences of their actions.
“I would really caution students, even though I know they are young and they want to experiment and try different things,” Barron said. “Regardless of what they think about marijuana, it is still illegal.”
Barron also warns student of the possibility of getting a criminal record that can harm their future employment prospects.
“If you continue to smoke it, the odds are that you are going to get caught.”