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]