Quick Take: How will marijuana decriminalization affect AU?
On Stands Now
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill March 31 that decriminalizes possession of up to an ounce of weed. The legal penalty is now only a $25 fine. How will this affect AU students, both on and off campus?
New law poses long-term conflict for AU drug policy
As Mayor Vincent Gray moves to approve the decriminalization of possessing marijuana in private residences, the debate becomes more prevalent on AU’s campus and in the lives of students. How effective will these regulations be? If current regulations surrounding items such as alcohol and tobacco are any indication, the new rules will have similar effects.
Though AU claims to be a tobacco-, smoke- and alcohol-free campus, the reality is pretty much the complete opposite. The majority of students completely disregard these rules and their actions are reinforced by a lack of rule enforcement on the school’s part. Anyone who has spent a day on campus can attest to the fact that we are not at all a tobacco-free campus, if the cigarette butts or even students and employees smoking in less-populated parts of campus are any indication of the blatant disregard of this prohibition.
AU created guidelines against alcohol use to specify that arriving on campus intoxicated, even if the person is underage, is not a cause for punishment unless it leads to other illegal activities.
Still, the University maintains its rule against alcohol possession. The most the school is able to do is encourage students to either not drink or know their limits through programs such as AlcoholEdu, which is mandatory for every incoming freshman. Despite the school’s best attempts, it is hard to enforce the rather liberal restrictions it has in place already against substances, which doesn’t inspire confidence for any new regulations.
Decriminalization will not change AU’s current policies because marijuana is still a civil offense. But a major setback AU faces is the possibility of a future with the potential for total legal possession of marijuana.
The legalization of possessing marijuana in private residences poses a whole new set of concerns that AU will have to address in the near future. Though further, stricter regulations against students using pot are likely imminent, the effectiveness of these rules will likely go the same way as present restrictions against tobacco and alcohol use on campus, unless a major change is made by the school in regards to enforcing these rules more strictly.
Rathna Muralidharan is a freshman in the School of International Service.
Pot legislation takes the ‘right step,’ but with little impact
This law will make little to no change to the current marijuana use of AU students on and off campus. Students who want to smoke marijuana can easily find the resources to get it and will pretty much smoke it anywhere, regardless of where they are living.
People, in this case AU students, will overcome the regulations and rules placed on marijuana based on the demand and interest.
I’ve seen dozens of students smoke tobacco on campus without getting reprimanded, and the disbanded smoking areas are still being used. Meanwhile, students who live off campus and smoke marijuana will also continue to do so.
If AU wants to prevent even a mild increase in marijuana use, then the univesity should promot more awareness about the drug’s negative aspects, as it has done in the school’s commercial campaign against tobacco and cigarettes.
But overall AU should not worry that the legislation will change campus life. There is no use in regulating actions that will continue no matter what rule is enacts.
Therefore, I applaud Mayor Vincent Gray for singing this bill. It is taking the right step toward solutions that will fix our nation’s marijuana problem.
Katlyn Hirokawa is a freshman in the School of Communication.