Summer is the time to abstain from smoking weed

silhouette of a person pushing away weed and going outside in the sun instead
(Jenna Gestetner | Daily Trojan)

Summer break is coming up, and the months from May to August provide students this perfect opportunity to sober up. Without the social anxieties and exam stresses that gnaw at students during the entire semester, summer is the ideal time to take out any unnecessary substances and focus on themselves physically and mentally. Just as abstaining from alcohol is good for your health in the long run, doing the same for cannabis is too. It’s not too late to save your lungs and your brain.

Using cannabis is a favorite pastime activity for the Trojan student body. USC even has a cannabis-themed organization, Cannabis at USC, that seeks to educate and advocate for weed on campus.

The coronavirus pandemic considerably changed how young people interact with one another socially, and with isolation came a rise in recreational marijuana usage. According to one Statista study that measured cannabis consumption within three months of the Fall 2021 semester, 11.6% of all U.S. college students smoke weed daily or almost daily, and another 13.6% smoke weekly.

While on-campus cannabis usage has risen over the years and everyone of age has the right to make their own decisions, extensive cannabis usage can be detrimental to a person’s physical and mental health.

Research has shown that smoking marijuana impacts the parts of the brain related to memory, learning, concentration and problem-solving. Additionally, continuous usage of weed can lead to severe brain fog, memory loss and the inability to focus. The Massachusetts General Hospital found that young people who abstain from cannabis had better memory and ability to acquire new information.

Instead of baking yourself this summer, take this perfect opportunity to relax and pick up some new hobbies. Reading, for instance, reduces stress, improves focus and concentration, increases quality of sleep and has been shown to improve mental stimulation. Volunteering has also been shown to increase functional abilities and lower rates of depression. These activities are great to do and require that your mind is 100 percent there.

Exercising in the summer is another opportunity for college students to stay in shape or become more fit. Along with the perks of reducing risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, regular aerobic exercise also increases the size of the hippocampus — the area of the brain involved in learning and verbal memory. Further research has shown that psychological and physical exercise improves mood and reduces anxiety.

Cannabis use and the urge to work out, on the other hand, may not be a good mix. In another study, The Imperial College London found that long-term marijuana users produce less dopamine, the chemical in the brain linked to motivation. Thus, it is hard to exercise and maintain or improve one’s shape if one loses the urge to do so in the first place.

Most importantly, summer is the perfect space to improve one’s mental health after a long school year of studying. The CDC highlighted how marijuana consumption is correlated with “depression, social anxiety, thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts and suicide.” Substance usage has a huge effect on your mental health. Mental health impacts all aspects of life, so whether that is creating a sense of inner peace, thinking more coherently, improving relationships or increasing self-esteem, mental health must be prioritized and cannabis should not be a component in doing so.

There are so many different things to do during the summer. Abstaining from cannabis is just one opportunity that Trojan students can take advantage of, even if the task may be difficult. Breaking the habit is an achievement that will be better than any high.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Cannabis at USC’s name as Cannaclub. The Daily Trojan regrets this error.