Student group says it backs 'responsible use'
It's spring, and a young man's fancy turns to,
well, marijuana at Kent State.
Freshman Dave Goldstein and other
students in a pro-marijuana group will rally Thursday to coax university
officials to be more lenient to the student use of cannabis.
''We condone the responsible use of
marijuana. We don't think you should get high and go to class, just like
you shouldn't get drunk and go to class,'' said Goldstein, a political
science major from Highland Heights who said he smokes pot daily.
The nationwide organization Safer
Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation of Denver has sponsored nationwide
rallies at 80 colleges and universities in April to promote debate on
SAFER believes that pot is safer for the
user and for society and should be put on an equal footing with alcohol.
''There has never been a single fatal
marijuana overdose in history,'' said SAFER Executive Director Mason
Tvert of Denver.
He cites statistics from the National
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that drinking contributes to
1,700 student deaths from alcohol-related injuries, including motor
vehicle accidents; 696,000 student assaults; and 97,000 sexual assaults
and date rapes each year.
Yet the National Institute on Drug Abuse
is hardly exuberant
about marijuana. The NIDA maintains that
marijuana useproduces ''adverse physical, mental, emotional and
behavioral changes, and — contrary to popular belief — it can be
Still, SAFER questions universities'
policies of penalizing students for lighting up and, in essence,
steering them toward alcohol and all the hazards that come with it.
''Why are we telling them to drink
responsibly when we could be telling them to party responsibly?'' Tvert
Goldstein said the 30 students in his
group, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, will rally at noon on Risman
Plaza in front of the Student Center and walk to the office of KSU
President Lester Lefton.
Students will ask Lefton to endorse
SAFER's Emerald Initiative, which aims to foster debate about whether
marijuana use by students could reduce dangerous drinking on and around
SAFER is copying an effort called the
Amethyst Initiative, a statement endorsed by 130 college presidents and
chancellors on whether the legal drinking age should be lowered to 18 to
curb student binge drinking.
The three Ohio college presidents who
have signed the Amethyst Initiative are Gordon Gee at Ohio State,
Dennison Griffith of the Columbus College of Art and Design and S.
Georgia Nugent of Kenyon College.
KSU dean of students Greg Jarvie said he
supported the students' First Amendment right to voice their opinion,
but the university did not agree with their views. ''We do not endorse
any type of drug use or underage drinking,'' he said.
KSU spokeswoman Emily Vincent said she
did not know if Lefton would be available to meet with the students.