Emerald Initiative Fights Marijuana Use Penalties
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Emerald Initiative Fights Marijuana Use Penalties
Posted by CN Staff on April 17, 2009 at 05:55:19 PT
By Sophia Jih, Staff Writer
Source: Daily Princetonian
New Jersey -- A new proposal called the Emerald Initiative is challenging campuses across the country to reduce penalties for students caught using marijuana. President Tilghman said in an e-mail that she had “heard nothing” about the petition and therefore had “no opinion whatsoever” about signing it.The Colorado-based Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), which drafted the document, contends that the criminalization of marijuana is inconsistent with the legal status of alcohol.
The organization argues that the high penalties colleges and universities dole out for marijuana use force students to revert to alcohol as a recreational alternative.“[Colleges and universities] are sending a dangerous message that fosters and perpetuates a ‘culture of alcohol’ on campuses nationwide, and drives students to drink rather than make the rational, safer choice to use marijuana instead,” the Emerald Initiative website,, states. “Marijuana is safer than alcohol. It’s time we treat it that way.”The Emerald Initiative is a more radical offshoot of the Amethyst Initiative, a national petition circulated last summer which called on college and university presidents to support lowering the drinking age to 18 in an effort to curb high-risk binge drinking.So far, 135 university presidents have signed the Amethyst Initiative, but President Tilghman is not among them. Tilghman told The Princeton Packet in August 2008 that she didn’t provide her endorsement because it is her practice to refrain from signing petitions. She added, though, that a reduced drinking age is worthy of consideration.Regulations in Princeton’s “Rights, Rules, Responsibilities” state that, “The University prohibits the unlawful manufacture, dispensation, possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance of any kind in any amount on University property, or while in the conduct of University business away from the campus.”University disciplinary action may result following any violation of local, state or federal law, the publication notes, “regardless of where such violations occur, if they are of a serious nature.”Yet some argue that this type of strict regulation does more harm than good.Sean Clancy ’09, former president of the now-defunct Princeton group Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, said he thought the Emerald Initiative sounded like a “great idea.”“An old friend of mine (not a Princeton student) who drinks quite a bit once said something to me along the lines of ‘once they legalize pot, I’m going to stop drinking forever,’ ” Clancy said in an e-mail. “There are definitely some people who are only drinking because they can’t get their preferred intoxicant.”Clancy added that he thought the Emerald Initiative could make the University’s disciplinary system fairer, even if it doesn’t reduce high-risk drinking.“It’s a little offensive to one’s sense of justice that a student can be punished more for smoking pot than drinking, when the former is objectively less dangerous,” he said.Following the passage of the Drug-Free Student Loan Act of 1998, students convicted of possessing or distributing marijuana or any other type of narcotic stand to lose federal student loans.Such government legislation is based on “entirely arbitrary reasons” that foster dangerous recreation patterns, SAFER executive director Mason Tvert told The Daily Pennsylvanian. “The government and universities clearly acknowledge that alcohol is a problem on campuses, but all their policies to prevent it — ‘Drink Responsibly’ campaigns, for example — just promote the notion that students should be drinking.”Businessman, philanthropist and University trustee Peter B. Lewis ’55 said he agreed with the aims of the Initiative.“I am unaware of the Emerald Initiative,” he said in an e-mail. “[But] I fully support all reasonable efforts to reduce the penalties for marijuana use.”In 2007, Lewis donated $3 million to the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization that aims to minimize the harm associated with marijuana and advocates for its legalization. Between 1991 and 2003, he also contributed $5 million to the American Civil Liberties Union’s drug-policy litigation project, which advocates legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. In January 2000, Lewis was arrested in Auckland, New Zealand, for drug possession when customs officials at the Auckland Airport found roughly 10 grams of marijuana and two pipes in Lewis’ briefcase, as well as another 23.3 grams in his luggage.Lewis pleaded guilty to three charges of importing cannabis plant and resin. His lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg, explained that Lewis smoked marijuana for medical reasons, to relieve pain following the partial amputation of his leg.Source: Daily Princetonian (NJ Edu)Author: Sophia Jih, Staff WriterPublished: Friday, April 17th, 2009Copyright: 2009 Daily Princetonian Publishing Company, Inc.Contact: mgao princeton.eduURL: -- Cannabis Archives
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