Auraria saw a little hint of green April 1, as SAFER stopped by to
discuss lessening penalties for marijuana offenses on campuses.
The Denver-based non-profit organization, Safer Alternative For
Enjoyable Recreation, led by Executive Director Mason Tvert aims to
educate the public about the relative safety of marijuana use. The
Emerald Initiative, is SAFERs plan to open up the discussion about
marijuana use on college campuses. Tvert acknowledged the date for a
nationwide push of the initiative was not an April Fools’ prank,
banners reading, “This is not a joke…Let us make the SAFER choice!”
were placed in the center of campus.
“It’s time our colleges and universities stop teaching students to
‘drink responsibly’ and start teaching them to ‘party responsibly,’”
SAFER launched their college campus initiatives in 2005 after two
highly publicized alcohol-related deaths on Colorado campuses,
according to Tvert.
“We, as a society, accept the fact that people like getting
intoxicated. So why can’t we just accept the fact that there is not
just one reasonable intoxicant,” Tvert said.
The Emerald Initiative is a direct response by SAFER to the Amethyst
initiative, which is seeking to lower the legal drinking age to 18.
Will Griffiths, a first semester student at Metro said after hearing about the Emerald Initiative, he is in favor of it.
“We have the medical legalization in the state, and frankly I think
it is being abused. So I think honestly we need to look at more
realistic views about integrating marijuana into our society,”
Griffiths said he grew up in England where the legal drinking age is 18 years old.
Lowering the drinking age would not combat the dangerous behavior of younger students he said.
Tvert is an open critic of the Amethyst Initiative, which more than 130 college presidents and chancellors have signed.
“Some may scoff at the Emerald Initiative, but it is not a less viable plan,” Tvert said.
Supporters of the Amethyst Initiative say lowering the legal
drinking age is a viable way to combat dangerous drinking behavior on
Student Government President Andrew Bateman said he has pledged his
support to the Amethyst Initiative. He said he believes it would foster
a safer drinking environment for students.
“I don’t know anyone between the age of 18 and 21 who says, ‘I won’t have that beer because it is illegal,’” Bateman said.
SAFER volunteer Kirsten Rozel said conversations about marijuana use
as an alternative to alcohol starting on college campuses could serve
as a segway to the conversation in society at large.
“I don’t think punishing it less is an open invitation to use it on campus,” Rozel said.
She said in cities where the marijuana laws are not as “relaxed” as
Denver’s, the conversations on campuses could lead to progressive laws.
Eva Enns, outreach director for SAFER is a Metro alumna.
“I have so much Metro pride and it would be the highest pleasure to
see more rational marijuana policies be supported by the school,” she
said. “There are a lot of consequences associated with drinking that
are very harmful. I really hope President Stephen Jordan will consider
allowing the students to make a safer choice, or at lease support an
open discussion about it.”
Patrick Houston, a UCD student is working with SAFER to spread the word around campus.
He said the April 1 announcement is only the first event to talk about the issues on campus.
Houston, along with Tvert delivered a copy of the Emerald Initiative
to Jordan’s office. Jordan was out of the office at the time.
Tvert said to date no college president or chancellor has signed on
with the initiative, although many have expressed an interest.
“It’s not like we are asking them to take a bong hit. We are asking them to have a discussion,” Tvert said.