Flashing blue lights exterior of an Emory dorm could point out that somebody has caught a whiff of hashish.
Underneath Emory’s present coverage, Resident Advisors (RAs) should report scholar hashish possession or utilization to the Emory Police Division (EPD), in response to Scott Rausch, senior director of residence life. Regardless of legislation enforcement’s risk of involvement, many college students are usually not deterred from smoking hashish or storing it of their residences.
It’s excessive time for College workers to cease calling EPD when college students are present in possession of hashish. The authorized repercussions of police involvement are stigmatizing because of implications of felony information, perceived threats to FAFSA and different penalties associated to academic and job alternatives past Emory. Furthermore, the specter of punishment for college students discovered with hashish and drug paraphernalia on campus solely creates larger stigma, which prevents these college students from growing an trustworthy understanding of the true results of the drug and looking for assist when vital.
Hashish use amongst faculty college students within the U.S. has increased, with almost half of all college students reporting utilizing it in 2020, a large improve from the final three many years. It will be naive to assume Emory is an exception to that pattern. Stroll into any residence corridor throughout campus, regardless of 12 months, and you’ll doubtless discover somebody smoking weed.
Criminalizing the usage of hashish on campus is ineffective when, for each police officer referred to as, there are numerous others dealing with zero repercussions. EPD can by no means catch each scholar utilizing hashish, and as use of the drug continues to unfold and improve, an increasing number of college students will develop a behavior or habit that goes unaddressed. It will be extra prudent of the College to deal with educating college students concerning the risks posed by heavy hashish use. Treating hashish use as a public well being problem quite than a authorized concern will assist to shift the dialog in direction of easy methods to have more healthy relationships to all medication. The specter of police and authorized recourse doesn’t.
Hashish misinformation and stigmatization have made the drug seem extra interesting on social media. Creator Michael Pollan is a distinguished voice pushing the decriminalization and depoliticization of hashish. Pollan argues that lowering the stigma surrounding hashish will lead individuals to have more healthy relationships with the drug. Many individuals, particularly a big proportion of school college students, use hashish on nearly a every day foundation; the drug has already ingrained itself in our neighborhood. The one query is: How can college students develop a wholesome relationship with weed?
When RAs contain the police with incidents of scholar hashish possession, it results in the escalation of an already fraught state of affairs, placing college students in direct contact with doubtlessly aggressive legislation enforcement.
In line with Pleasure Knowles (22C), an RA on the Clairmont campus, the present coverage is, “very arduous cease, no exceptions, name EPD.”
“So proper now the coverage states that if we encounter a resident with marijuana, it’s beneficial that we name backup, so one other RA for assist, however we’re required to name EPD and have them come and deal with the state of affairs and we keep there till EPD arrives and handles the medication and any paraphernalia as effectively,” stated Knowles.
Knowles additionally famous that there are racial implications to calling EPD in these conditions.
“Loads of Black and Latinx RAs are uncomfortable with EPD being current in these conditions, lots of Black and Latinx residents are uncomfortable with EPD being current, so it’s form of, whose consolation and security is being valued, and whose consolation and security is being ignored?” stated Knowles. EPD was reached out to for remark however didn’t reply in time.
Whereas critiquing Emory for its rigid stance on this coverage is important for catalyzing change, easing up on the hashish ban is simpler stated than carried out. Presently, the federal authorities forces all schools and universities to ban on-campus hashish use, as it’s nonetheless a Schedule I drug. The Schedule I standing loops hashish in with medication like cocaine and heroin, despite the fact that hashish will not be almost as dangerous as the opposite two. But, a ban on possession doesn’t should imply a full-throttled enforcement. Alternatively, RAs ought to take the drug away from the scholar and supply campus sources for rehabilitation.
Our campus tradition’s place on hashish use wants to alter. The easy first step comes by altering the insurance policies round RA confiscation of hashish. Many Emory college students come to the College with no prior hashish expertise, leaving them vulnerable to misuse and dependency. The College ought to encourage productive conversations about hashish use by incorporating it into first-years’ necessary well being coursework or mandating a pre-arrival on-line course much like the one on alcohol. These measures would encourage constructive conversations about having a wholesome relationship with hashish; schooling is the very best step towards prevention.
A extra concrete step towards progress can be altering enforcement to replicate the College’s stance on underage consuming. Because it stands, college students who’re underage and caught with alcohol should pour it down the drain whereas an RA is current. Knowles proposes comparable remedy of hashish when discovered on college students.
“One factor that myself and a few individuals who have now graduated from Emory have tried to push for is doing the identical factor [as with underage drinking] besides flushing it [cannabis] down the bathroom, confiscating any paraphernalia,” stated Knowles. “I feel that will make it much less worrying, it could make it extra comfy and make it a safer atmosphere for each single particular person current, particularly individuals of coloration.”
In the end, aggressively imposing Emory’s hashish ban does extra hurt than good because of inevitably unequal implementation and the problematic implications of police involvement. On the finish of the day, college students will hold smoking and hold getting harm, and wholesome habits can be additional stigmatized quite than promoted. Let’s be blunt, policing isn’t the reply.
The above editorial represents the bulk opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board. The Editorial Board consists of Rachel Broun, Jake Busch, Kyle Chan-Shue, Sophia Ling, Demetrios Mammas, Daniel Matin, Daniela Parra del Riego Valencia, Sara Perez, Ben Thomas, Chaya Tong and Leah Woldai.