SGA Vote Endorses Marijuana Reform

SGA Vote Endorses Marijuana Reform
Posted by CN Staff on June 15, 2008 at 17:49:22 PT
By Max Behrman
Source: Central Florida Future
Florida -- SGA showed its green side when it endorsed two house resolutions aimed at reforming national marijuana policies. The vote took place June 5, less than four months after the student population voted in favor of making marijuana and alcohol violations the same in the Golden Rule.Sen. Brendon Rivard, of the College of Arts and Humanities, drafted Resolution 40-20.
The resolution is intended two resolutions that "decriminalize marijuana for 100 grams or less for personal use and not-for-profit transfer between adults."The resolution will attempt "to recognize states that have legalized [medicinal] marijuana," Rivard said.Because the bill passed, Rivard said it was as if 48,000 were voting for reformation; however, a close margin could also imply that almost half of the student body - or at least SGA - would not agree with 40-20.According to a news release by Rivard, "UCF endorses H.R. 5842, the 'Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act,' and H.R. 5843, the 'Act to Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults."'The release also states: "This endorsement follows the decision of the students in February demanding equalized penalties for marijuana and alcohol on campus."Rivard had several reasons for why he believed legalization should be reconsidered, including topics such as its risk-factor compared to other drugs, its impact on the economy, and its ability to be used as an aid for patients in pain."Substances that are more dangerous are currently legal, like alcohol," Rivard said. "Even Aspirin is more dangerous. More people have overdosed from Aspirin in one year than people overdosed from marijuana in the history of medicine."Rivard expressed his reasoning by citing some statistics related to the current War on Drugs. He said that the United States spends $600 per second on the War on Drugs, arresting non-violent citizens."Drug use is up, drug availability is up, drug prices are down, drug potency is up. So I don't see why a regulated marijuana market would not benefit the United States when it's the No. 1 cash crop in quite a few states, even though it's illicit, which shows the quantity of its profit margin," Rivard said.Rivard mentioned that the drug market is a market like any other, driven by supply and demand. He went on to say that in a black market, dealers don't check IDs, they push other drugs onto their clients and don't guarantee safety of their product.Rivard said that in a regulated market, the government would be in charge of making sure that the plants being circulated are clean, purchased and used by adults. They would also be in more control of the drug's flow in and out of the country.Rivard, along with others, believe that the effects of cannabis have a relevant part to play in the medical world for patients who are afflicted with variety of painful conditions."Who is any politician to get between a doctor and his or her patient?" Rivard asked. "If the doctor feels that marijuana is the best medicine for a patient, then who is anybody to get between that?"With 10 people voting against the resolution, not all senators were in favor. Sen. Will Lusk of the College of Sciences was one of those who voted nay."I felt that it was something that SGA really shouldn't get involved with," Lusk said. "I feel that a student government should be involved with lowering tuition prices for students; we should be getting more classrooms for students; we should be providing more services that will benefit the entire student body."I feel that promoting marijuana reform should be left to registered student organizations like NORML [National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws]. NORML has done an outstanding job promoting and advertising marijuana reform; that's not our job here as SGA."Lusk continued. "Our student government should be focused more on policies that affect UCF and not national policies  We have more important things to worry about here: we have money to give out to students, we have to take care of students' rights and concerns."Although Lusk voted against the resolution, he is not completely opposed to the marijuana laws. "If you want to reform the marijuana laws, contact your state senator, not your SGA senator," he said.Sen. Chris Cates of engineering and computer science also voted against the resolution."Issues or policies that directly affect the students are what we're here to deal with," Cates said. "We're not necessarily here for external issues  that don't directly influence the students at UCF."Source: Central Florida Future (U of Central Florida, FL Edu)Author: Max BehrmanPublished: June 16, 2008Copyright: 2008 Central Florida FutureContact: http://www.centralfloridafuture.comNORML -- Cannabis Archives
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