Students at Purdue University vote in favor of a referendum that would slacken dormitory hall policies on marijuana possession
At the beginning of the month, Purdue students narrowly voted in
favor of slackening the penalties for marijuana possession in residence
halls, according to the campus newspaper, the Exponent. The
paper reported that 54 percent of the student body favored a more
lenient policy toward marijuana, one on par with that of alcohol
Currently, the penalty for a student who is found in the possession of
marijuana or related paraphernalia is immediate eviction from the
By contrast, the penalty for alcohol possession is much more lax, which
methods ranging from a referral, to alcohol education classes, to
expulsion from the dormitories upon repeat violations.
The referendum was initiated by the National Organization for Reform
of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a non-profit lobbying organization working
to legalize marijuana.
Recently, the organization has received media attention for presenting
legalization as a way to stimulate the faltering economy through the
taxation of the drug.
Although the students have made their voices heard, no immediate action
will be taken by the university to revise dormitory policy, at this
point. The school senate will look at the issue and student government
leaders plan to meet with university and dormitory officials.
The fact that the referendum is non-binding at this point does not
dishearten NORML. The organization intended the vote as a way to test
the waters for student opinions concerning marijuana use, rather than a
means to immediately change school policy.
The referendum is a direct response to residence hall officials who
stated earlier in the year that before seriously considering the NORML
agenda they needed proof that students wanted the change.
NORML is working closely with the Denver-based group Safer
Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, which is also pushing for
colleges to reconsider policies about student marijuana use.
SAFER makes a case for the legalization of marijuana by presenting it
as the lesser of two evils, arguing that alcohol consumption leads to
more deaths, sexual assaults and violence than marijuana.
The student groups that backed the referendum hope that eventually the
Purdue policy of zero-tolerance will be replaced by a sliding-scale
punishment based on the amount of marijuana to be found in student
If such school policies were implemented, it would mirror more closely
the real-world laws concerning drug use. If someone is caught
possessing marijuana in the state of Indiana, punishments vary from a
misdemeanor to fines or even one year in jail, depending on the amount