Opinion: When celebrating too much on your 21st birthday gets dangerous

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Contact CU Independent News Staff Writer William Witt at william.witt@colorado.edu.

Since the legalization of marijuana for people 21 and over in Colorado in 2012, the number of pot-related medical emergencies has stayed relatively the same for natives, yet for out-of-state tourists, the numbers have increased drastically. Although the state has released a great amount of information on marijuana safety, many people have overlooked that data and fall victim to the adverse affects of the drug, specifically when combined with alcohol.

Let’s say it’s your 21st birthday and the only thing on your mind is hitting the nearest dispensary and liquor store to use your now-valid I.D. to buy substances that a day ago would have been illegal to carry. You stock up on weed and a few bottles, and are now ready to get as messed up on both drugs as possible to have the best night of your life. You start by taking shots with your friends, followed by some hits off a joint. After a while, you realize you are not as drunk as you should be on that many shots, so you drink and smoke more before hitting the bars for your first time. Once there, you take more shots at the bar and realize you are beyond messed up. You try to throw up but for some reason your body isn’t letting you. You suddenly start getting incredibly paranoid and anxious, and the calming effects the marijuana had on you at first are now overwhelmingly the opposite. Your friends then find you, and get you to the hospital as quickly as they can before you succumb to alcohol poisoning.

Marijuana is antiemetic, meaning that it makes it difficult for the user to throw up while using it. This can be beneficial when used by cancer patients to help keep food down, yet when alcohol needs to be expelled from your system through the mouth, the results can be dangerous.

By using both drugs together, the user often has the capacity to do more of each substance, resulting sometimes in alcohol poisoning. Although there has been no proven way to overdose on marijuana, a heavy amount used with the presence of alcohol can sometimes cause the user to feel symptoms of anxiety, paranoia and panic.

Along with that, the alcohol and THC mix can make a user feel incredibly foggy and with the heavier amount of both taken, can make the user black out. Although some may say “crossfading,” or getting twisted, is one of the best experiences of their life, many others can attest to the fact that blacking out and fogginess has resulted in them making decisions that were irrational or even dangerous.

These sorts of events are often rare for Colorado natives because the information on weed safety here is more prevalent. It is also uncommon because of the widespread use across the state already. The main problem comes from people out of state who smoke marijuana. When coming for a 21st birthday celebration, they tend to binge on weed and alcohol because it is completely legal here and is like a vacation. That is why it gets so dangerous. With marijuana being illegal in other states, the knowledge on safety and usage of the drug is minimal, so when coming to Colorado for a vacation or a birthday, many tourists do not realize what is safe when dealing with marijuana.

Marijuana has the possibility to be a fun time for some people if used in a safe way. Getting familiar with the drug and researching how to be safe while using it are vital for anyone looking to come out to Colorado for a 21st birthday bash.

Marijuana and alcohol, when put together, can have incredibly adverse effects, yet with knowledge on your own limits and the drugs themselves, you can hopefully enjoy being 21 without a trip to the hospital.

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