UA students may have noticed the recent emergence of marijuana leaves
chalked on sidewalks, tables set up with information and students
asking them to sign petitions. All of these initiatives are part of an
effort to obtain 1,500 signatures by today to bring the question of
punishment for marijuana-related offenses on campus to a vote in April.
believe our policy should reflect truth and justice, so we're calling
on the university to equalize the punishments for marijuana and
alcohol," said Jacob Holloway, who is working to place the question on
the ballot through Students for Sensible Drug Policy. The campaign is
sponsored through a partnership among SSDP, the National Organization
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Safer Alternative for
Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER).
The question on the petition asks
students, "Do you agree that university sanctions for the possession
and use of marijuana should be no greater than those imposed by the
university for the possession and use of alcohol, and that the
university should establish a task force to develop, implement and
study such a policy?"
This referendum, which will go to a
student vote during the Associated Student Government election period
in April provided that the group obtains enough valid student
signatures, will "communicate the opinion of the student body that the
university's sanctions for the possession and use of marijuana should
not be any greater than those imposed by the university for the
possession and use of alcohol."
Students who visited a table
hosted by SAFER and NORML in front of the Arkansas Union this week
asked the groups a myriad of questions about the initiative, such as,
"Will this actually do anything?" and "Can I get in trouble for this?"
the initiative only needs 1,200 verified signatures for the question to
be placed on the ballot, the groups are trying to obtain as many
signatures as possible to create a buffer in case of problems. Students
do not have to fear punishment by the university for signing the
petition, as only the person who verifies that the signees are students
will see the names.
The table in front of the Union also provided students with a variety
of literature that promoted marijuana as being safer than alcohol and
informed visitors that there is a large movement not only on campuses,
but also in communities and police departments to legalize marijuana or
assign it a lower priority.
A lower-priority initiative on the ballot during the November election passed with 66 percent of the vote in Fayetteville.
had varied reactions to the marijuana initiative - some in complete
support, and some doubting its ability to actually create any change in
"I think petitions like that are a waste of time and
won't accomplish much, if anything," said Jon Ridley, a senior
management major. "The university's rules have to coincide with local
and state laws, and state laws have to go with national laws. So while
cops might be lenient with underage drinking and the campus might be,
too, they are definitely not lenient when it comes to drugs.
"If they were, it would cause campus to become a weed-safe haven for smokers and dealers and so on," he said.
students, however, agreed with the sponsoring groups that punishments
for marijuana use should mirror those for alcohol use.
think that the university should consider the change because marijuana
is just as safe as or safer than alcohol," said Brittany Hayes, a
freshman political science major. "I don't think a policy should be
implemented at all until the smoking policy either takes effect or is
amended, preferably to include designated smoking areas on campus,
Holloway said he and other members of the sponsoring
groups "are trying to spread consciousness and change the perception on
"We see it making the ballot and passing," he said. "The big issue here is really creating awareness on drug reform issues."