By Seth Tamarkin, Staff Writer
Marijuana has gone through many names over the years, from ganja, wacky tobaccy, and sticky icky to mary jane, stank, and that good good. But one moniker marijuana has not been able to obtain is ‘legal on campus,’ and the debate rages on today if it’s right that UMass Dartmouth has not legalized marijuana on campus despite the state legalizing marijuana two years ago.
“I believe weed should be legalized 100% on campus,” says Alex Sluborski a junior Computer Science says,. “It is already legal in the state, so you might as well just make it legal at school too.” Alex’s opinion is one echoed by many students at UMass Dartmouth that marijuana should be legalized on campus.
As noted, the main argument being made by advocates for legalization revolves around the fact that marijuana has been recreationally legalized since 2016. Many students contend that the decision to criminalize marijuana on campus is backward thinking considering their policy on alcohol.
For example, a first-time alcohol charge for a student would result in a $50 fine and a disciplinary action. However, since marijuana is categorized in the school policy as any other drug, the results are much more severe.
A first-time marijuana charge results in a $75 fine as well as “residence hall jeopardy and/or university jeopardy”, meaning that a student could get kicked out from living on campus.
If a student gets a second marijuana charge, they are subject to suspension or even expulsion from the university, but alcohol inferences get an additional third strike before they reach expulsion.
Having such serious measures makes sense to stop lethal and addictive drug use like heroin and meth, but years of research have dispelled the myth that marijuana is nearly as dangerous as those.
As a matter of fact, research has shown that when it comes to lethal and addictive substances, alcohol ranks right alongside those hard drugs while marijuana is unequivocally the safest. During the weekends when ambulances wait outside the Dells and other areas of the campus, they are never there because of marijuana overdoses to say the least.
Not only has marijuana repeatedly been cited as safer than alcohol, it also hosts a wealth of benefits too. Medical marijuana has been available in Massachusetts since 2008 and has been prescribed for depression and anxiety among other disorders.
The American Psychological Association has mentioned that anxiety and depression are consistently ranked “as the most common mental disorders treated at college counseling centers,” so many would argue that its common sense to allow legal marijuana on campus considering it specifically helps an issue affected by a huge chunk of students.
As nice as it is when the University holds Stress Less events for students suffering stress and anxiety—one popular event features baby animals that can be held—the question should be begged if legalizing marijuana on campus would help curb stress even more.
The common refrain from administrators in states that have legalized marijuana is the constant threat from the federal government. Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs sparked the 1989 Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which threatens to pull funds from any school that does not respect the federal laws for drug legalization. So much for the Republican ideal of states’ rights.
Morgan Fox, of the Marijuana Policy Project, contends that those fears are overblown though, stating that he’s never actually seen the government go through with their threat.
Regardless, a threat of that magnitude holds considerable weight, especially for a state school like UMass Dartmouth.
In other states, some students are rebuking the threat themselves. Over at the University of Maryland, College Park, the student government led the charge and passed a resolution that would radically change their school’s marijuana policy.
Even though the measure is still being looked at by the school’s administrators, the resolution is a powerful first step because it shows the popularity and momentum behind the movement.
As marijuana use increases and our state reaps in the (so far) 100 million dollars in sales, students and administrators alike should question UMass Dartmouth’s policy and work to solve the complicated issue, possibly through a resolution of their own.