Marijuana, tobacco combine for relaxation

Many students say they find stress relief in smoking marijuana. (Photo: Lia Richardson) Many students say they find stress relief in smoking marijuana. (Photo: Lia Richardson)

Lia Richardson
Life Reporter 

Midterms have arrived and some students at Humber say they find stress relief in lighting up both cigarettes and the still-contraband herb, marijuana.

Susan Ferguson (not her name), 21, a first-year broadcast radio student, said she suffers severe anxiety when stressing about the challenges that come with school. She turns to cigarettes at least twice a day but said smoking marijuana is more effective for her.

“Weed makes me feel more relaxed,’’ she said. “I’m more talkative and comfortable. I don’t plan on doing it my whole life, anyway.’’

Ferguson said she thinks the drug should be legalized, as Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau has promised to do, and believes that would lower crime rates.

Twenty-four-year-old Horst Wenzel (name has been changed), a third-year architectural technology student, said he feels worse when smoking tobacco than marijuana. The student complained about having chest pains and said he can’t differentiate the stress he feels at school from bad health symptoms.

Wenzel said he’s been trying to quit smoking tobacco for years but finds himself alternating between marijuana and cigarettes.

“I want to stop one day. I don’t like the way I feel when I smoke but at the same time, there’s a relaxing feeling, too. It keeps bringing me back,’’ he said.

Veronique Pham, a registered nurse at Telehealth Ontario, the free telephone health advice service, said most Canadian smokers start between the ages of ages 16 and 19. More than 90 per cent will make it a long-term habit, she said.

Pham said even though there is some controversy on whether marijuana is a better alternative to cigarettes, she believes their long-term effects are quite similar.

Both may cause cancer, bronchitis, anxiety, mood swings and respiratory problems, she said.

Putting a stop to the addiction may also cause problems.

“Students will experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit but it all starts with the person having a strong will to stop,’’ said Pham.

Pham suggested those who are trying to quit consider the nicotine patch, exercise to strengthen stamina and eating healthy.

If symptoms such as high blood pressure, excessive weight gain or any serious pain occur while trying to quit, smokers should seek advice from their doctor.

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