What pot is not

CHRISTIAN HARTSELLE | chartsel@butler.edu | Columnist

When people say that marijuana is a problem at a university, they mean that it is fairly prevalent. They don’t mean that it causes any actual problems. And, to be frank, I’m skeptical that it does.

My question is this: Is marijuana a problem because it is an actual issue, or is marijuana a problem because it is illegal?

There is no doubt that Butler University has to take measures to ensure the campus is pot-proof.Otherwise, the school cannot earn federal funds. 

For sophomore Nate Dixon, it is very clear. “They can’t implement policy that goes against the law,” Dixon said.

I agree. I’m not discrediting  university officials. They are doing all they can do. They are following the law.

Still, law enforcement and the administration are disillusioned on the illegality of marijuana. It seems silly to demonize the substance when you look at the facts. 

For most, “marijuana poses a minimal physiological risk, especially when compared to alcohol and cigarettes, which cause tens of thousands of cardiac deaths each year,” according to a 2009 study published in American Scientist.

We also need to consider what actually happens when people are educated on marijuana consumption. Research has shown that prohibition likely increases the drug’s use.

“Illegal drugs have become cheaper while their potency has increased, indicating that efforts to control ‘the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing,’” according to a CNN online article.

Furthermore, I wanted to know exactly what Butler’s administration thought of marijuana use on campus.

Upon being asked what problems marijuana may cause, Levester Johnson, vice president of student affairs, said the drug may impair students’ judgements.

“Students exhibit behaviors they may not have followed with, had they not been using marijuana,”  Johnson said. He also cited noise disruption as a concern related to the drug. 

I was underwhelmed by the answer, but not with disrespect to the administration. I only felt more certain that my view was unchanged. Marijuana has been made into a problem by the law, but its use is not an actual issue in and of itself.

Junior Levi Gourdie, a member of Butler Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, has attempted to lobby policies similar to the Lifeline Laws for drugs. The Lifeline Law currently provides immunity for underage drinkers who seek medical assistance for a person who is suffering from an alcohol-related health emergency.

Gourdie also stresses the importance of drug education rather than the policing of drug use. In my opinion, the stance of this movement is more than sensible—it is necessary.

While the effects of marijuana are incredibly mild and short-term, they are still significant enough to cause someone issues with the law.

With all the events campus has in the fall, new students are bound to be exposed to marijuana and other illegal substances.

Butler University Police Department and the rest of the university takes drugs seriously. The last thing students need to kick off the year is an arrest. Freshmen and upperclassmen alike, please, don’t be irresponsible—don’t break the law. It’s not worth risking your opportunity for an education at Butler University.

But since marijuana does not seem to cause significant health and safety risks comparative to alcohol or tobacco, it is worthwhile to question the law.