Can I Get High and High Grades?
By Isabella Blu Ptito-Echeverria
If you regularly smoke weed, you know about its omnipresence on campus perimeters. Even if you’re just out for a cigarette, there will be at least one group passing around a joint or sucking the cigarette-infused ha
sh smoke out of a Coke bottle. Despite telling yourself you won’t be getting high this time, the fact that cannabis is so readily available at any given time makes self-control in the name of education such a complicated ordeal. As an ex-pot-smoker and avid learner, I am all too familiar with having to juggle pot-smoking and grade-maintenance daily. With that in mind, I’d like to tell you why I quit smoking weed, despite all the fruitfulness it brought to my social life during my first semester at Dawson.
POV: It's Fall 2019. Every break is a moment where time stands still. With a cigarette between your lips, you're kicking a hacky-sack between a fresh group of potential besties.
“Do you smoke weed?” asks an acquaintance.
“Oh, HELL YEAH I do!”
This brief interaction sparks intense communal excitement; there is something unspoken that unifies people who smoke weed.
Unlike in high school, we now have the freedom to roll a joint out in the open. No more threats of detention or expulsion; seize the moment, man!
You and your mates are giddy as the mason jar is popped open. The scent triggers vivid memories of all your best while-I-was-high stories. The sun is shining bright; you’re overwhelmed with an overarching sense of peace.
That familiar skunkiness fills your lungs. "This is so cool! I can smoke weed here, and I won’t get in trouble!”
The euphoria lasts for a while. Your friends trickle off to their classes. Then it’s just you. Reality sets in: “Fuck, I gotta go to class.”
That numbed bliss is smothered once you walk into Dawson. You check your schedule a few hundred times, your impaired memory failing to grasp the number of the classroom you’re supposed to get to.
Alas, you’ve arrived, but you were late due to the time spent confusedly roaming about the halls. Everyone stares at you. Do you reek of weed? Is the professor onto you? You find a secluded seat and set up camp. Your teacher lectures on, but you struggle to process anything. Sure, you hear the words, but it’s just noise. Everyone else seems to get it... They look so prepared! You desperately want to leave; “There’s no point in being here, I’m too high to learn.”
You either bury your head in your arms and close your eyes until you hear other students shuffling their belongings, or you hold your breath and march out of the classroom mid-lecture in hopes of finding more like-minded friends back outside. In any case, that fiasco turns into a few, and by the time you’re sober and ready to learn, you’ve missed too much, so you panic-skip your next class. “I’m so lost... There’s no point in going.”
You go back outside and chain-smoke cigarettes until a familiar face passes by. Perhaps you can chat, or more importantly, light a joint together to get to that timeless utopia you crave. Only this time, when you finally get there, it feels like purgatory. The cycle continues. A year goes by, half of your friends have graduated, and you are alone knowing that each one of your friendships will fleet as the Earth spins on without you.
I must note that weed affects everyone differently. For some, it enhances creativity, boosts productivity, alleviates anxiety... For me, weed was a handicap. Getting stoned would make me more aware of my thoughts, but not in a wise, self-aware way; it made my thoughts my entire world, to the point where I couldn’t experience anything new. I was too far removed from the present to learn from it. As a student, I couldn't learn. As a person, I couldn't grow. Learning is the pinnacle of growth, and being chronically stoned prevented me from doing that in any way. That is why I chose to quit.
Looking back on those days is bittersweet. While my impulse is to call it a waste of time, I’m glad I did what I did. Everyone has the right to fuck up their first semester in favour of reckless fun, and I’m lucky to have exercised that right before a pandemic stole our youth. I do, however, mourn the knowledge I missed out on by showing up high to class. I mourn the grades I could have gotten, had I decided to do my homework instead of getting high with strangers in a field somewhere. Consequently, my grades do not reflect my intelligence. Nowadays, I’m lucky to have found the strength to kick my habit for good. That is, at least while I’m in school.