Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Our Opinion: Lessen the pot punishment

Posted on April 20, 2015 in Our Opinion, Perspectives
By USM Free Press

The laws surrounding marijuana are pretty murky. Although marijuana has been legalized within Portland, and society is becoming more accepting of the practice, we advise students to keep their smoking habits within their own home and certainly off campus. We don’t think consuming marijuana is anymore dangerous than some more common stress relieving vices, however, it’s not worth the risk.

According to a survey we conducted, at least 104 students have smoked weed on campus. Students at USM who get caught with marijuana on campus will immediately be given disciplinary action, which may include anything from suspension of financial aid to complete expulsion from the University. Getting high before philosophy class, may sound like fun, but if your education is at stake, just leave your bowl at home.

We do think USM’s marijuana policy is too strict though. The penalties surrounding alcohol consumption on campus aren’t nearly as severe. Individuals under the age of 21 who consume alcohol will be subject to the state law and anyone 21 and over is allowed to drink in approved campus facilities. The USM policy writes, “Persons are expected to assume responsibility for their own behavior while drinking and must understand that being under the influence of alcohol in no way lessens their accountability to the University community.”

However, if a student is found on campus with the legal amount of marijuana for Portland (less than 2.5 ounces) or found to have medical marijuana, the student is breaking campus laws. It’s unfair to potentially end somebody’s academic career because they carry their medicine to campus. If penalties against possession and usage on campus must exist, let’s keep them exactly the same as the ones pertaining to alcohol.

Marijuana possession is a crime that punishes the offender more than once and stays on their record for a lifetime. College students are always going to experiment with marijuana and although the Free Press doesn’t condone the use of it on campus, it’s simply unfair to implicate such harsh punishments when it is legal in the city. USM’s policy says alcohol and other drug use interferes with the learning environment, but why have a have a separate policy that punishes marijuana users at a higher extent?

We’d like it if the punishments for underage drinking on campus was the same as for smoking weed, but for now, just don’t take the risk with either activities.

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