Students have point about pot
Article Last Updated; Wednesday, December 16, 2009 12:00AMMore than 40 years since
Woodstock, Colorado is still having trouble figuring out what to do about marijuana. As that unfolds, some Fort Lewis College students are asking that as an infraction of school rules, pot users be treated the same as those caught violating the college’s policy on alcohol.
It seems like a reasonable request. There is no reason college policy should arbitrarily deem one more serious than the other.
That is especially true in that government cannot decide how to deal with pot. Colorado voters approved a ballot measure in 2000 that legalized medical marijuana. That went no-where for years because the Bush administration rigidly enforced federal laws that make no such exception.
Now, though, the Obama administration has said it would not prosecute people involved with medical marijuana, and dispensaries have sprouted everywhere state law allows – including Colorado. That has left both state and local governments scrambling to enact reasonable regulations that respect the voter-approved medical marijuana exception and the long-held fear that legalizing pot would encourage increased drug abuse.
FLC mirrors that confusion. The college says all infractions are handled on a case-by-case basis and that marijuana violations are not necessarily treated more severely.
But the Student Conduct Code says drug use or possession will be met with “substantial disciplinary action,” which could include suspension from school. Violating the alcohol policy also could lead to suspension, but the same code also specifically lists several possible lesser penalties in its section about alcohol. There is no mention of those in regard to marijuana and anecdotal accounts suggest students have been suspended for pot use.
The argument that the two should be treated differently because marijuana is illegal does not hold water. Few students living on campus are older than 21, and a minor possessing alcohol is as illegal as having a small quantity of pot.
The nation remains confused and conflicted about marijuana, and FLC is no different. But that should not be reflected in the treatment of an underclassmen guilty of what is little more than an error in judgment. The college has a right and a responsibility to maintain order, safety and propriety on campus. But it also has an obligation to do it fairly.