Names marked with an asterisk were withheld for privacy reasons.
Written by Grace Pickering and Mandie Montes
In the days since the rain poured over Southern California, the once dead grass on campus has become luscious, providing a haven for students to practice tai-chi, bask in the sun, or hang around the mirror pools – a spot where students regularly consume cannabis. Students are seen often huddled together in various groups scattered around the edges, standing around and smoking a bowl or two while waiting for their classes to begin.
“It’s a nice place to come where we’re not bothering anyone or having to smoke in a confined space,” said Michael “Texas” Almanza. “It’s just beautiful.”
Encircled by a mass of students alongside the mirror pools sits Breeanna Young, a hopeful Cal State LA transfer and future social worker. Young, who is a first year student, immediately felt comfortable smoking cannabis on campus when she began attending PCC. At first, she would sit in a corner by the mirror pools alone, smoking by herself, but after awhile, she became part of a group of students who also have a penchant for smoking on campus.
“To be honest with you, I [felt comfortable smoking] right when I got here,” said Young. “I feel like they should let us smoke on campus.”
However, rather than seeing a lone student smoking, there are many gathered around and engaging in all sorts of normal activities like attempting (and failing) to climb a tree, listening to trap music and socializing with friends. Amongst the amalgamation of smoke and people, a student took a knee while clutching a football, not because he was protesting alongside Colin Kaepernick, but rather to prepare his lungs to take another hit.
Further into the mirror pools, a group of students crowded around and formed a smoke circle, complete with a bong placed directly in the center.
“Yo, you gotta ask before you hit!” shouted Henry Ramirez, as he joined the circle.
Each student took a hit, noticeably intrigued about the topic at hand. As the bowl made its rounds between the boys, they discussed when their journey with weed began.
“The day I smoked [was] the I never went back” said Nic*, a regular consumer of cannabis.
On campus, Nic smokes alongside Texas and Matt Orellana, two friends of his who are second year students.
The group glanced around cautiously before igniting the piece once more. While campus police can sometimes be spotted cruising around campus, it doesn’t appear to hinder the activities.
“You’re good. There’s no cops [around],” reassured Texas as he handed his piece to another boy in the group.
When Texas first began attending PCC, he was confined to smoking in his car, but he soon discovered like-minded individuals surrounding the bodies of water directly in front of the C building.
“I just used to go back into the parking lot and smoke [there],” said Texas. “And then I came out here and there was a bunch of people smoking.”
Among the crowd of students, first year zoology major Jones* sits at the edge of the pool, emptying her pipe on the side. Jones speaks rather comfortably, trying to light up her piece against the heavy winds that prevent her from taking a hit. After a couple attempts, she finally takes a hit, releasing the smoke slowly into the air. Her comfort in smoking on campus stems from others around her smoking as well.
“My weed smoke is masked by everyone else’s blunt smoke,” said Jones.
Smoke isn’t individually produced as many of the students share their weed with one another, a typical occurrence in the cannabis community. The camaraderie formed around the mirror pools is created by the enjoyment of toking up with one another.
“Don’t hide the weed,” said Texas. “Divide it”.
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