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Policy Shifts (Slighty) On Pot

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Stacia Cosner, a university senator and head of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, she has spent two years struggling to see marijuana users treated less like violent criminals by the university.

Now, Resident Life's administrators have, perhaps half-heartedly, relented. The department's associate director, Steven Petkas said Resident Life will give more leeway to community directors to decide punishment for students evicted from housing because of drug violations.

The fight's not over, but Cosner feels vindicated.

"They're punished by the school, the state and the county," said Cosner. "If I can take away one of those, or lessen the impact, I've done my part."

The old policies specifically denied leeway for community directors to decide punishment when dealing with students who were found using illegal drugs, said Resident Life's salary director Keira Martone, who researched changing the policy. Now, directors are allowed to decide the punishment if students are caught with marijuana, though not other illegal drugs.

If a student is found to have used the drug, a community director can reduce the minimum of one year suspension from housing to a semester. If a student is cited with possession of marijuana, a director can cut punishment completely, said Martone.

But Resident Life won't guarantee anything in writing. the department has not changed the classification that separates offenses like marijuana use from more lightly-punished infractions such as underage drinking.

Nevertheless, the policy revision is a change of heart for Resident Life, which announced in May that it would not implement recommendations from the two largest student organizations to reduce marijuana penalties. The Residence Halls Association and the Student Government Association both asked Resident Life to reduce the classification from level A, which includes crimes such as rape, fighting or destroying university property, to level B, which includes possession of alcoholic beverages by a minor and keeping a pet in a dorm.

Resident Life officials said they would not alter the classification after months of talks with student organizations pushing for a change.

Petkas said his office didn't want to approve the resolution because he saw alcohol violations and illegal drug violations as fundamentally different.

Cosner said she continued to lobby for any sort of leeway and Resident Life eventually gave in, promising the informal policy change. It remains to be seen whether the policy change will actually relieve penalties for marijuana smokers.

"We decided [the formal reduction] wasn't in the best interest of behavior management with students," said Petkas. "There is a legal difference. Everyone will be able to buy alcohol when they turn 21. Not so with marijuana."

Petkas also stressed the dangers of unregulated drugs sold in an underground economy.

While she is pleased with the compromise, Cosner said she is not satisfied and wants the actual wording in Resident Life's policies changed.

Cosner said those policies leave students who use drugs afraid to approach emergency services in cases of overdose.

Because of an incident in 1986 when university basketball star Len Bias died of a *edit overdose in Washington Hall, the university made drug policies more stringent. But Cosner argues the incident should have made the policies more relaxed, so students would feel more comfortable calling for medical attention.

"We are the school where it happened," she said. "We have to set the standard."

Cosner says she will to continue the fight this year through her senate position. Over the summer she was elected to the student conduct committee, which was responsible for developing a stricter riot policy last year.

While Cosner said Resident Life has been receptive and at least considered changes, she said law enforcement officials had not been as forthcoming. She said she would want to see police prioritize what laws they enforce.

"[Police Chief Ken Krouse] gave me the usual lip service," Cosner said. "I think he had his mind made up that he wasn't going to change his opinion."

Paul Dillon, spokesman for University Police, said it is not up to him to decide what to enforce.

Dillon said the department weighs marijuana policy differently from other infractions because of the illegal drug's ties to addiction, it's perceived role as a "gateway drug" and instances of drug related robberies.

News Hawk- User http://www.420Magazine.com
Source: The Diamondback Univ. of Maryland
Author: Nathan Cohen
Contact: cohendbk@gmail.com
Copyright: 2007 The Diamondback
Website: Policy shifts (slightly) on pot - News
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New Member
Bless her heart! One step at a time...


New Member
lets hope she asks that the school enforce the 14 th amendment and give all inebriants that can lead to a toxic overdose the same penalty....
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