The Bluff at LMU is widely known for offering spectacular views of Los Angeles that span from the Pacific Ocean to downtown. However, some LMU students flock to the benches on the Bluff for more than just a pretty sunset. Among students, the Bluff – which offers a sense of seclusion – is known as the perfect place to light up.
“The Bluff brings people together, because you’re out there with people you don’t know but you have one thing in common [marijuana use] so it gives you more reason to talk and have a community,” Will Tillman, a junior english major and member of the Loyolan's Election 2020 team, said. “I’ve met some really good friends there. It’s a nice communal space.”
Apart from the social aspect of smoking, we found students who also use marijuana for its medical benefits. Multiple studies, including one by the Clinical Psychology Review found that marijuana helps treat anxiety, stress, depression and loss of appetite along with a long list of other ailments. Many students cited stress, anxiety and depression as motivations for using marijuana.
“Yes. I use it because it makes life better. Your problems are easier to deal with,” said a sophomore international relations major who was one of several students who agreed to be interviewed but asked for anonymity because University policy does not allow marijuana on campus. "It doesn’t help my mental health but it helps with the symptoms. It’s the only thing I’m taking for depression. It does wonders against depression and anxiety. It brings a state of being over me in which I feel like I’m my best and the stress of living is manageable.”
While mental health conditions and symptoms were motivators, they weren’t the only ones students gave. Trouble sleeping, loss of appetite and an urge to be creative were also on the list for why students turn to weed.
On paper, LMU is clear about its stance on marijuana: it’s not allowed on campus. According to the community standards, "in accordance with federal law and University regulations, possession and/or use of marijuana is prohibited on campus."
But in practice students have found the rules to be blurred. Some say you just have to be careful of when and where you smoke on campus, avoid the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and you’re home free.
One student shared an experience of smoking in a dorm and evading DPS when they came to question the students about the smell of marijuana by turning off the lights and pretending to be asleep, never to be questioned about it again. Other students said DPS doesn’t heavily enforce the anti-marijuana policy and shared stories of smoking on campus with DPS officers nearby and not experiencing any consequences.
“I went to the Bluff to smoke with a pipe. I lit up right by the Bird Nest,” a sophomore the Loyolan spoke to who asked to remain anonymous said. “As I exhaled, I turned around and saw two P-Safe guards coming up the steps not even ten feet away from me, and they just totally walked past ... I was smoking weed in front of them and they did nothing.”
In the same survey, 67.3% of student respondents said that they use cannabis products. Of those who do, 36.1% stated that they consume marijuana less that two times a month, while 23.1% use once a week.
“Just like everything else in the world, weed has to be done in moderation,” Dmitry Usov, a sophomore film and television studies major said.
The community created around weed on the Bluff came long before recreational marijuana was made legal in California – for those 21 and up – at the start of 2018.
Marijuana use among full-time college students is on the rise and is at its highest level in 30 years with almost 40 percent using within the last year, and over 20 percent using in the last 30 days, according to a study done in 2018 by the University of Michigan found.
“I’m a film major it’s a very creative state of mind that I put myself in, [smoking weed],” said Usov. “Also for bonding purposes. It brings people together in a way social smoking is still a thing. But primarily creative reasons and social reasons.”
For many using weed was not a common occurrence until they came to LMU. One student said it was what she perceived as a LMU’s “big influence with marijuana” that led her to smoke a bit more. Students, across grade levels that the Loyolan talked to, described infrequent use in high school, but that they found an accepting culture for weed in Los Angeles and on the Bluff that led them to use it more frequently.
There was a divide among students who use weed; while some are daily or weekly users, others try to keep some distance from marijuana and mainly partake when it is in a social setting and they are being offered it. Others try to keep some distance between themselves and marijuana and mainly partake when it is in a social setting and they are being offered it.
“By doing it occasionally, I also have a low tolerance which makes it more fun,” a junior biology major said.
Multiple students described their fear of becoming dependent on it if they were to buy it themselves or use it more frequently and the possibility that their school work would be affected.