Sensibility On Cannabis

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Are you high right now?" Stephen Colbert asked Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who appeared on the Jan. 8 episode of The Colbert Report. This question is the standard response to any proposal intended to reform insensible drug policies. So, in answer, I am not high right now, nor am I a stoner. One does not need to be personally affected by unjust policies in order to see why they must change.

On Feb. 27, the Residence Halls Association will vote on a proposal to move possession of a small amount of marijuana from an A-level violation to a B-level violation in the Residence Hall Rules. A-level violations include offenses such as setting fires, breaking into a dorm room and use of a weapon. Immediate housing termination is the standard punishment for these offenses because, except for marijuana possession, all of them significantly harm other students and/or their property.

B-level violations include underage alcohol possession and "disorderly, or disruptive behaviors which interfere with another person's free exercise of academic or personal pursuits or their ability to sleep or study." These violations may harm the individual, often disrupt dorm residents and always result in disciplinary action. However, in most cases, housing termination is deemed an inappropriate sanction for B-level violations.

To me, housing termination (not to mention police involvement, one-year suspension, potential loss of financial aid, etc.) does not seem like a remotely practical or fair way of dealing with students who possess a small amount of marijuana.

Under the proposed change, cultivation and distribution of marijuana would remain an A-level violation, which eliminates any incentive for distributors and cultivators to increase their illegal activities on the campus. However, possessing an amount of marijuana too small for distribution would become a B-level violation. Only students who have small amounts would be affected by the proposed change. Thus, the amount of crime on the campus would not increase.

It is true the university cannot condone marijuana use or underage drinking. However, it can respect students' ability to learn from their mistakes instead of enforcing zero-tolerance policies that greatly hinder academic success. Only 48 hours after the marijuana possession offense is committed, which can happen at any point in the academic year, students must secure off-campus housing. This not only puts a lot of pressure on students, but some are unable to afford alternative housing (as dorm fees are not refunded) and are forced to withdraw from the university. Being caught with the smallest trace of marijuana - for example, traces of resin on a pipe - results in the implementation of these obstacles that are incredibly disproportionate to the crime committed.

At the same time, residents who commit underage alcohol possession offenses are given sanctions on a case-by-case basis depending on the circumstances of the incident. They are put on housing probation but are not evicted except in the presence of unusual circumstances.

This proposal does not aim to equalize alcohol and marijuana or to eliminate punishments for drug offenses in dorms. It simply recognizes that it is only necessary to evict students who present a real risk to the physical safety of other residents. (How many times have you encountered a half-baked belligerent?) We cannot and would not propose to legalize marijuana in the dorms, but the RHA can vote to hold students wholly responsible for their illegal actions in a way that does not affect the rest of their academic careers.

Many of the nation's leading academic institutions have adopted drug policies that treat students with compassion instead of immediately casting them out as unworthy criminals. Changing the Residence Hall Rules is not only legal and doable, but it would reflect positively on the university's public image as an institution that treats students like the adults that they are.

Even those who would love to support this proposal find it outlandish simply because it appears to be soft on marijuana (as opposed to less ridiculously harsh on students). Frankly, change is not an outlandish or futile effort at all. Honest! It's all laid out in a sensible proposal, and all we need are some "yeas." If you live on the campus and the idea of moving first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana to a B-level violation appeals to you, please let your RHA senator know of your support so he or she may vote accordingly Feb. 27.

For more information about university drug policy reform or how to contact your senator, check out Student for Sensible Drug Policy - University of M.

Source: The Diamondback
Author: Rebecca Ogle
Copyright: 2007 The Diamondback
Website: Sensibility on cannabis - Opinion
Wow, this article brought me back to 10 years ago. . . My friend was dimed out for possesion by his roomate after a big fight about keeping his shit together, i.e. clothes, trash. . etc. . . Next day, I was in te dorm with him, the roomate was out all day, and there was a knock on the door. . . It was some admin, he asked if we were smoking pot. . . we said no, and in fact, we hadn't smoked in the room that day. . . The admin walked over to a set of drawers, opened the bottom drawer, pulled up the bottom of the drawer and found my friends stash. Well found was not the right word considering, how the hell he knew exactly where to go. . . I had 30 min to remove myself from campus or face the police, and my friend was givin 24 hrs to find alternate living off campus. That was after he begged and pleaded not to be throwen out of school. He ended up leaving the next year, and went to a school out in cali. . . This really placed a hardship on him in the mean time, barely aford the rent of his new place, hurt his rep with some of his teachers, he was a very good student, and was givin a hard time after he was caught with MJ.

To me this article may point out a new direction with the attitude of MJ. If it starts in the colleges, maybe those students can take with them some possitive that comes from compasionate views on MJ, and possibly make changes to laws down the road when they come into a position where they can change them. :peace:
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