On Jan. 24th, the University of San Francisco community received an email from the Director of Student Conduct, Rights, and Responsibilities that confirmed that the school’s policy towards marijuana will not change – even after California legalized recreational marijuana usage earlier in the month. Marijuana will still be prohibited on campus for all students and being caught with marijuana, or any related paraphernalia, can result in suspension or expulsion. These policies are in spite of marijuana’s new legality in California, which was voted for and passed by a 57 percent majority. Californians overwhelmingly showed that they support legalizing marijuana, despite decades of anti-marijuana propaganda. The majority of the Foghorn stands by the fact that USF is a school in California and should reflect the laws of California.
We believe that if you are 21 and older and have legally purchased marijuana, you should be able to consume it in the privacy of your dorm room. Not only is this legal under state law, it is safer than the alternative – would USF rather have students leaving their dorm buildings for Panhandle Park to smoke at night?
The Foghorn understands that this issue is tricky because California’s legalization of marijuana directly counteracts federal law concerning marijuana usage. Because of this, USF is caught between adhering to the laws of the state or to the laws of the federal government. And, of course, USF has federal funding to worry about in the forms of student loans and teaching grants. However, the Foghorn also believes that marijuana should be decriminalized and that an important part of legitimizing California’s decision towards marijuana is for universities to treat marijuana as a controlled substance, like alcohol is.
The Foghorn staff believes that USF’s policy towards marijuana should mirror its alcohol policy. You are allowed to possess and consume alcohol in your dorm room if you and all other people present are 21 and older. However, you are not allowed to be drunk in class. This sends the message that you can drink if you want to, but if you’re irresponsible, then you’ll be punished accordingly.
As students, we are here to learn how to think, not what to think. We are also expected to be responsible adults. For example, USF can’t force us to go to class. If you want to miss a week of classes, you are free to do so as long as you also agree to face the potential consequences of your actions. Students want the freedom to choose and make decisions for themselves. If a student uses their freedom inappropriately, they should be punished. In a school that prides itself in preparing its students for the outside world, it feels like USF is acting more like a babysitter in terms of its marijuana policy.
There are some on our staff who feel that USF’s policy will make the school more secure and that allowing marijuana on campus imposes too big of a safety risk. However, it is a fact that marijuana previously being illegal didn’t stop students from smoking it. Wouldn’t it be safer to allow marijuana, so students aren’t smoking in Panhandle Park at night? Throughout history, it has been shown that making something illegal will not prevent it from happening. People who want to do something will always find a way to do it. In the 1920s, the Prohibition Era prompted people to make moonshine. Now, in 2018, people who want to smoke are going through hoops to do so.
The views of the Foghorn staff are diverse, but most of us support USF changing its policy to reflect California law: allow marijuana on campus and treat it like alcohol.