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Cannabis Facts

Potency Matters
  • Today’s cannabis has about 5 times more THC than a decade ago. 
  • Some cannabis products have as much as 90% THC. 
  • High-potency THC (> 10% THC) can cause more acute reactions to the drug and faster addiction.
Risk of Addiction
  • Yes, it is possible to become addicted to cannabis. 
  • A recent study showed that almost 30% of people who used marijuana developed a cannabis use disorder. 
  • The risk of developing an addiction increases when individuals start using at an early age, use more frequently, use higher amounts, and/or use stronger marijuana. 
Your Mental Health
  • Daily cannabis use is correlated with and increased incidence of developing serious mental illness.  Risks increase as potency and frequency increase. 
  • Cannabis use is correlated with an increased occurrence of social anxiety disorder.  
  • In higher doses (especially with edibles), some users experience paranoia, acute psychotic episodes, and panic attacks. 
Memory, Learning, and Brain Power
  • Regular cannabis use can negatively affect the part of the brain involved in learning & memory. 
  • Cannabis can reduce one’s ability to concentrate and pay attention. 
  • Studies show marijuana users are more likely to skip class, and frequent users are likelier to have lower GPAs than students who do not use it. 
Cannabis & Driving
  • Marijuana may impair judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability. 
  • Multiple studies have found that the risk of being involved in a car crash significantly increases after cannabis use, and in some cases, the risk doubled or more than doubled. 
Synthetically-derived Cannabinoids

Examples include Delta-8 and Delta-10 

  • Categorized as illegal controlled substances on the federal and state level 
  • Typically occur in small amounts in the cannabis plant 
  • Larger quantities of Delta-8 are produced by chemically/synthetically converting CBD, a hemp-derived cannabidiol.  The chemicals used in the synthetic conversion of CBD to Delta-8 are known to produce harmful by-products 
  • Delta-8, Delta-10 and CBD products are not approved for human use by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) 
Side Effects of Frequent Cannabis Use

These side effects below have been found to interfere with academic performance, relationships with others, and other general daily life responsibilities: 

  • Abbreviated sleep cycle 
  • Fatigue 
  • Increased anxiety (particularly social anxiety) 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Depression episodes 
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Psychotic episodes 
  • Lack of focus 
  • Low motivation 
  • Reduced attention 
  • Impaired problem solving 
  • Slowed motor coordination 

Penn State Conduct and Legal Concerns 

Penn State
  • The use, possession, and distribution of cannabis is prohibited on campus.  This includes medical marijuana/cannabis and synthetically derived cannabis products such as Delta-8 and Delta-10. 
  • FDA-approved drugs (e.g., Marinol®, Syndros®, Epidolex®) are permitted with a valid prescription.
  • Being under the influence of cannabis to the degree that you may be a health or safety risk to yourself, others, or University Property is a violation of the Code of Conduct. 
  • Penn State is required to follow federal laws that classify cannabis, medical marijuana, and synthetically derived cannabinoids (Schedule I) as illegal controlled substances. 
  • Penn State’s housing contract states that it is a violation of state law, local municipality, and University policy to possess, distribute, manufacture, or sell illegal drugs.  Medical marijuana is prohibited on University Property. 
  • It is against University policy for a student to be under the influence of an illegal substance or to be in a residential area and in the presence of an illegal substance.
Penn State's Responsible Action Protocol and Pennsylania's Medical Amnesty Law

If you or a friend have been using illegal substances and you need medical attention, call 911. 

Penn State’s Responsible Action Protocol protects students who call to get help for someone who needs emergency medical attention (for example, is passed out or unresponsive)  because of substance use.   

Students will typically not face University Conduct Action for use or possession of alcohol or drugs if they: 

  • Notify the appropriate authorities (911, police, campus security, resident assistant) 
  • Believe you are the first caller 
  • Provide your name 
  • Stay with the person until authorities arrive 

Learn more about alcohol amnesty.  


Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act 

Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act went into effect on May 17, 2016. However, marijuana in any form remains a prohibited controlled substance under federal law, and therefore the possession, cultivation, and use by individuals on campus remain illegal under federal law. The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act conflicts with federal criminal laws governing controlled substances, as well as federal laws requiring  

institutions receiving federal funds, by grant or contract, to maintain drug-free campuses and workplaces. Penn State receives federal funding that would be in jeopardy if those federal laws did not take precedence over state law. Therefore, the use and/or possession by individuals of marijuana in any form and for any purpose continues to violate applicable University policies, and any student or employee who violates such policies may be subject to disciplinary sanctions. 

Students living off-campus who have a qualifying medical condition and a valid medical marijuana ID card can obtain cannabis products from a licensed dispensary.  

Recreational Use in Pennsylania

Consuming marijuana without possession of a valid Medical Marijuana card remains illegal in Pennsylvania.  Individuals found in possession or under the influence may face legal charges.  Local ordinances and consequences vary across municipalities where Penn State campuses are located.  Find out more about marijuana and the law from Penn State’s Student Legal Services

Drug Testing for Jobs or Internships

Cannabis can stay in your system for up to 30 days, meaning it can be detected on a drug test even weeks after use. Delta-8 products contain THC and will show up on a drug test as cannabis.

Impaired Driving

University Park Resources

Collegiate Recovery Community

The Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) supports students in recovery by coordinating weekly peer support meetings and other social activities.  The mission of the CRC is to help students in recovery find success at Penn State.  The CRC also runs ROAR House, which is on-campus housing for students in recovery. There is also a weekly discussion group for students who have been affected by the substance us of friends and/or family members. 

Health Promotion and Wellness

Cannabis Screening and Education for College Students  

Students who are concerned about their use can sign up for this personalized 2-session service.  The service is free if a student does not have a cannabis-related violation.  CASECS is delivered by professional staff who use a harm reduction approach to help you reduce the negative experiences associated with cannabis use.  You can schedule an appointment by calling 814-863-0461 or by emailing   

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

CAPS provides short-term outpatient treatment for full-time, registered students for a range of mental health, co-occurring and substance use disorders. CAPS will also work with students who are in crisis to assist with urgent needs or those who need help obtaining a higher level of care when indicated. To receive services at CAPS for AOD (Alcohol and Other Drug) concerns, please start by calling to schedule a phone screening appointment at 814-863-0395. 

Students at Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses can find a list of campus counseling services online

SMART Recovery

This free drop-in group teaches tools to change problematic alcohol and drug use, focusing on a Four Point Program: 1) Building and maintaining motivation, 2) Coping with urges, 3) Managing thoughts, feelings, and actions, and 4) Living a balanced life.  SMART recovery meets on Mondays from 4:00 – 5:00pm, at 105 Pasquerilla Spiritual Center during the fall and spring semesters. 

For more information contact Lori Strayer at, 

University Health Services (UHS)

UHS is a comprehensive medical outpatient clinic for students which will address medically urgent problems to ongoing concerns. They also provide a 24/7 advice nurse line and online scheduling through the myUHS access portal.  You can also schedule an appointment by phone at 814-865-4847.  

Other Treatment Options or Treatment Locators
  • SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator 
    • This is a national database to find all levels of care; you can use the link or call 1-800-662-HELP 
  • Addiction Treatment Locator, Assessment, and Standards Platform (ATLAS)
    • This resource can help you find treatment options for various levels of care and help you filter by things such as eligible funding sources.  
  • Marijuana Anonymous  
    • Marijuana Anonymous (MA) is a fellowship of people who share a common experience, strength, and hope.  Through peer support they work to help others recover from marijuana addiction. The site includes a listing of online and phone-based meetings. 

Mixing Drugs and Alcohol

Drug Increased effects when mixed with alcohol
Cannabis Impaired coordination, impaired judgment, reduced reaction time, confusion, difficulty concentrating
Xanax and other anxiety medications Drowsiness, dizziness, increased risk of overdose, slowed or difficulty breathing, impaired condition, unusual behavior, memory problems
Adderall and other ADHD medications Dizziness, drowsiness, impaired concentration, possible risk of heart problems, liver damage
Depression medications Drowsiness, dizziness, increased risk of overdose
Over-the-counter pain relievers Upset stomach, stomach and intestinal bleeding, ulcers, liver damage, rapid heartbeat


Self Assessment

ScreenU Cannabis

The ScreenU Cannabis tool offers personalized, non-judgmental feedback.  The tool will help you identify if you are experiencing negative consequences because of your cannabis use.  The tool provides information to help keep you and your friends safe.  The screening tool is anonymous, and your information is not recorded.  

More Information

Call 911 - You May Save a Life
Penn State’s Responsible Action Protocol and Pennsylvania’s Medical Amnesty Law protect students from prosecution for consumption or possession of alcohol or drugs when they seek help for a peer.
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