Connecticut is the 21st state to legalize marijuana. The law went into effect on July 1 and legal sales could start as early as May, 2022. The legalization of marijuana in Connecticut presents many challenges for college and university administrators. Excessive marijuana smoking can lead to the same problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption, such as erratic driving, fighting, vandalizing, stealing, and so forth. This is due to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) the psychoactive component of marijuana that causes impairment, that is, diminished judgment and motor functions.

Most alcohol-free campuses are or will most likely be marijuana free campuses as well. The main problem for campus public health officials is enforcing rules related to marijuana impairment by smoking, vaping or eating marijuana in brownies and other foods.

Public health officials investigating driving and other problems on campus confront a problem to determine impairment because urine and blood tests are not useful. Marijuana may be present in the individual’s system, but impairment is not confirmed at the time of the test. This is due to the fact that marijuana can stay in the system for up to 30 days.

Connecticut higher education administrators might consider using Dr. Michael Milburn’s Druid App. This app accurately detects impairment from marijuana and other drugs. DRUID is an acronym for “DRiving Under the Influence of Drugs.” Researchers reported that DRUID was the most sensitive cognitive marijuana impairment test among 10 tests examined.

An explanation of how the DRUID APP works is too lengthy for this column. What is important is that the app shows within 30 to 45 minutes of marijuana inhalation the highest level of impairment. This impairment decreases over a period of two to three hours. Campus public health officials can use this app to enforce rules. Also, students can use this app to determine their level of impairment related to marijuana, alcohol, and other substances.

Most colleges and universities have substance-abuse prevention programs. These programs educate students on the impact alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs can have on their bodies, judgment, and behavior. This education includes the harmful effects and legal consequences of these mind-altering drugs. The emphasis has been on alcohol abuse. The challenge now is for schools to increase educational efforts related to marijuana abuse to the level of alcohol abuse. New approaches are needed to meet this challenge.

One new approach is for substance abuse prevention specialists to teach students how to use the DRUID APP. Students who know their impairment score for marijuana, alcohol, and other substances can make better decisions regarding driving and participating in other dangerous activities.

C. Kevin Synnott, PhD, is a Lecturer at the Eastern Connecticut State University Department of Business Administration Management and Marketing.