One night not too long ago, a very close friend of mine — let’s call him “NotMe,” — was high on marijuana. Yes, that’s right, the pot.

It should be said, though, that at first my friend was uncomfortable with the idea of written documentation proving he had smoked up. But I’m pretty sure I eased his mind by pointing out that any future party who might take issue with his drug experimentation would probably have a larger problem with the fact that he has sex with men. And so, bearing his consent, I am telling his story as a warning to the curious. For that night, my dear friend discovered that yes indeed, drugs are bad. And since I trust him, I’m taking his word for it. After all, I of course have never touched the stuff.

But that doesn’t mean that I, along with the rest of the law-abiding Yale population, am not familiar with the effects of marijuana. Popular culture keeps us well informed: Pot, we learn, “relaxes;” it “mellows;” it “calms.” It also appears to make certain situations a good deal funnier than they actually are. Sounds good, no? Well, there are also downsides, and my friend discovered firsthand that night the true terror behind mind-altering substances: paranoia.

Did anyone else happen to catch that commercial during the Super Bowl, the one that linked marijuana to impaired judgment, and thus to teen pregnancy? Well let me make this very clear: My friend was so completely paranoid that he would have avoided sex for fear of himself getting pregnant. The commercial obviously has it backwards: High school nurses should abandon distributing condoms and parents should quit pushing abstinence since fat blunts would do the trick nicely.

But my friend’s fears became less abstract as he somehow managed to put himself in a situation that could very easily have been riddled with tension in the first place. To be more specific, he suddenly found himself wondering if he was dressed too “gay” to be in the basement of a fraternity, while simultaneously playing beer pong with the twin brother of his ex-boyfriend, all the while suspecting that the same ex’s current boyfriend had suddenly turned hostile (although the latter turned out to be true and completely unrelated to the pot — but hey, no big loss). Throw some temperamental heating pipes into the mix and you’ve got my friend, NotMe, mentally cowering in the corner of that fraternity basement, suspiciously darting his eyes and convinced that at any second a pipe will explode, piercing his skull with thousands of tiny metal shards.

Suddenly “Mary Jane” doesn’t seem so enticing now, does it?

And the worst part, or so my friend tells me, is that he was fully aware that the paranoia was completely drug-induced. The entire time there was a voice in his head laughing at him for having completely lost control of his senses. Apparently pot makes you paranoid and self-deprecating for being paranoid in the first place, so not only was everyone in the room out to get him, but he would have kicked his own ass if he were somehow able. Honestly, I don’t blame him for getting the hell out of there as fast as he could.

ÊSo with all this in mind then, what’s the appeal? I mean, besides paranoia, just look at the scam marijuana is pulling: first you throw down a good portion of your hard-earned allowance to practically cough up a lung. Then you possibly mire yourself in a situation you’d much rather experience drunk, because after all at least alcohol has the decency to let you black out and not remember. And finally, to top it all off, you end the night in orgasms over a bag of Nacho Cheesier Doritos, which, any way you look at it, is really pretty sad. It just doesn’t add up!

Or maybe it does, ’cause there’s pot out there and it’s being smoked. I guess it’s also worth mentioning that despite sprinting back to his dorm room for safety, my friend hasn’t necessarily sworn off the stuff. As for me, though, I think I’ll play it safe and stay with what I know. In other words, I plan on sticking to alcohol. Well, alcohol and heroin, that is.