Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Cost of Weed on Campus More Than Money

    A cloud of confusion surrounding marijuana policies has surfaced at Se- attle University and campus officials are working to clear it up.

    An on-campus debate on issues as- sociated with the state’s take on mari- juana regulation will take place on Jan. 28 at the “Marijuana Legalization: Highs and Lows” conference. Guest speakers include Washington State At- torney General Bob Ferguson, and Se- attle City Attorney Pete Holmes, who will discuss and answer questions. Journalist Joni Balter and Seattle U’s Institute of Public Service Larry Hub- bell will lead the conference. The talk will focus on recreational rules, pub- lic safety and health issues related to marijuana use.

    Although voters have established marijuana as a legal drug in Wash- ington State for both medical and recreational purposes, the rules and regulations of the cannabis industry remain a gray area. With Initiative 502 passed, the recreational industry must now loop through many of the same problems that arose for medical pot suppliers in Washington. Ferguson and Holmes will explore the some of the logistical issues of marijuana busi- ness at the conference.

    Meanwhile, three University of Washington business students are using the new laws regarding mari- juana to hopefully turn a profit. The young entrepreneurs created an app called Canary, which is designed to deliver marijuana to medical patients throughout Seattle. The app adds an- other element to the already confusing legality of everything surrounding pot in the Emerald City. The legal status of Canary and other delivery services are up in the air, but the app is currently operating.

    Carlos Rodriguez, a sophomore Resident Assistant in Campion Hall, feels that Seattle U students often think that marijuana legalization means that they can smoke pot on campus—but that’s not the case.

    As an RA, Rodriguez is a conduct officer on campus, though he feels
    “The promises of pot don’t necessarily always line up with the reasons people are choosing to use it.”

    Ryan Hamachek Wellness and Health Promotion Director that the reality of his duties can be overlooked.

    “Our most important thing is mak- ing sure everyone is safe…and people don’t really realize that,” Rodriguez said. “The marijuana culture here at SU has a tendency to view RAs or Public Safety [officers] as people who don’t really want to help them.”

    Rodriguez does realize that living in a state with comparatively lenient laws can be an appeal to some students, re- gardless of their age.

    “I think that’s part of the reason that people enjoy the fact that they’re in Seattle,” Rodriguez said.

    Ryan Hamachek, director of Well- ness and Health Promotion at Seattle U, has seen little change in his area of work since the passing of I-502.

    “Our policy prohibits use. Period,” Hamachek said.

    Being a federally funded school means that in order to receive finan- cial aid, Seattle U must comply with federal laws. That means that even though marijuana has been legalized at the state level, it is not allowed on campus. Hamachek’s office works to promote realistic education about students and their marijuana habits, including a poster project as part of a peer health education outreach cam- paign.

    Wellness and Health Promotion also hopes to give Seattle U’s community a more realistic idea of how much pot is used by students. A 2013 survey found that 24 percent of Seattle U students had used marijuana in the last 30 days. However, the perceived average of stu- dents who used pot in the last thirty days was 88 percent.

    Although Seattle U’s marijuana use was slightly higher than the national average of 18 per- cent, students still tend to over inflate the real figures.

    Hamachek also stressed that the area of operating motor vehicles is a concern for the university.

    “[Driving] is where we are going to lose students,” Hamachek said. “Mari- juana impacts attention, concentra- tion and memory. There is no debate about that.”

    Those who have consumed mari- juana are encouraged to wait for five hours before they get behind the wheel. Included in I-502 is the right for police officers to draw someone’s blood after being pulled over. Accord- ing to a story by NPR, it is illegal for Washington residents to drive with a THC content of over 5 nanograms per milileter of blood.

    Even as the Seattle community has more openly accepted marijuana use, Hamachek still does not see the benefit of the drug for students. According to him, a student trying to get a degree may not realize that marijuana use could be detrimental to educational and professional success.

    “What is the benefit at the end of the day to a student seeking an education?” Hamachek said. “The promises of pot don’t necessarily always line up with the reasons people are choosing to use it.”

    “Marijuana Legalization: Highs and Lows,” hosted in the lobby of the Student Center, will begin Jan. 28 with a reception at 6:15 p.m. followed with the conversation starting at 7 p.m. Students wanting to attend can RSVP at [email protected].

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    • J

      Jada Tuggle
      Feb 11, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      I am a Seattle University student living on campus responding to the article, “Cost of Weed on Campus More than Money,” recently published in The Spectator on January 21st. With legalization of marijuana in Washington, many debates have been surfacing around the Seattle University campus. While there are claims that students are going to attempt to smoke on campus, I have not yet heard of an instance where someone’s judgment was that poor. For one thing, there are multiple ways to consume marijuana that do not include smoking. Furthermore, what doesn’t make much sense to a lot of students is the fact that a 21 year old can buy alcohol and drink in their residence hall as long as everyone in their room is 21 years of age or older.

      Seattle is becoming more lenient toward marijuana use as a whole and there are students who have applied here because of that. Additionally, recreational marijuana was legalized in Washington on November 4th, 2014, allowing adults aged 21 years or older to purchase retail marijuana without a medical card. Still, though, students at Seattle University can be heavily punished if they are caught in possession of marijuana.

      Not being allowed to smoke marijuana on campus does in fact make sense, especially because of the fact that it is a campus that is open to the public, but students can literally cross the street and be out of Public Safety’s jurisdiction. The Seattle Police Department is also going to discontinue training drug dogs to sniff out marijuana since the passing of I-502. The argument that Seattle University could lose its federal funding is constantly used when questioning Seattle U’s policy regarding marijuana use. The focus needs to be shifted from punishment to education on marijuana and moderation similarly to SU’s approach to alcohol use.

      Seattle University’s Health and Wellness Crew constantly has posters up that educate students on drinking safely, but I have not seen one for marijuana use other than one displaying the potential adverse effects due to the negative attitudes that the Wellness Crew has regarding its use.

      Chaucer Larson’s article also lacks a testimony from students who get good grades and also use marijuana recreationally or for medicinal purposes. There is no doubt that there are students on campus that have valid medical marijuana cards who use it for anxiety, depression, and other illnesses. The attitude that marijuana has no benefits for a student seeking an education is dismissive toward students who use it in moderation.

      Seattle University should be promoting education on the subject rather than focusing on the negatives. Environments for discussion are crucial when it comes to improving relationships between students and faculty, so there is a need for more discussions like the one on January 28th. SU officials should be taking another look at the marijuana use policy especially since the passing of I-502.

      Changes can be made that would treat it like alcohol and discourage criminal activity similar to the way that legalization decreases crime on a bigger scale. Seattle University is a school which promotes tolerance on a big scale, so instead of shunning marijuana use, there should be an effort made to adapt to Washington’s policy change.