Pubdate: Thu, 17 Mar 2005
Source: Colorado Daily (UC Edu, CO)
Copyright: 2005 Colorado Daily
Author: Stephanie Olsen, Colorado Daily Staff Writer
Cited: Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER)
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


Stoners rejoice. Having the munchies may not carry such harsh
consequences at CU-Boulder if some students have their say.

"The students are fed up with a system that penalizes them for making
the safer choice," said Vanessa Cisneros, a sophomore at CU. "The
potentially harmful consequences of using alcohol far exceed those of

Cisneros supports a referendum that would change the marijuana policy
on the CU campus.

A Boulder-based non-profit organization called "Safer Alternative For
Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER)," a group dedicated to raising awareness
about the harmful consequences of alcohol as related to marijuana, is
helping the students at CU go through the process of passing the referendum.

Additionally, Cisneros wants to start a student chapter of SAFER at

"The students are looking to try to do something on campus because
they wanted to change penalties because they didn't think it was fair
given the harm of alcohol," said Mason Tvert, the executive director
of SAFER. "We are here to advise them and help them get a referendum
passed that we felt would make the biggest impact."

The student referendum calls for the University to acknowledge
marijuana as a comparatively safer alternative to alcohol and requests
that CU treat the drug as such when giving out punishments to
students, according to a press release sent to the Colorado Daily by
SAFER on Wednesday.

"Given that alcohol kills people and creates a number of student
problems on campus, including sexual assault, fighting, property
damage, all these different issues," said Tvert, "it doesn't really
make for good public policy for a university to essentially be telling
students they're going to get in less trouble for something that
causes more hurt."

Tvert said that the referendum has nothing to do with the criminal
penalties associated with marijuana or the law.

"We're talking about what the university is worried about," said
Tvert. "Should the university worry more about their policies
following side-by-side with the law, which it doesn't have to, or are
they more worried about producing the most safe and healthy student
body possible?"

Jeff Christen-Mitchell, the president of the National Organization for
the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a non-profit public interest
advocacy group, supports a move to eliminate penalties for student use
of marijuana on CU's campus.

"Colorado is a very progressive state and it would be appropriate for
some sort of intelligent progress," said Christen-Mitchell. "Alcohol
is a dangerous drug, while marijuana is not."

Christen-Mitchell said he views marijuana use as medicinal, especially
with the high stress of education and life in general, and also as a
much safer alternative to alcohol for students.

"I don't advocate or encourage use or abuse of anything by anyone,
just for students it might be nicer if they had an alternative," he

Jessica Bralish, the director of public relations for the University
of Colorado Student Union (UCSU), said if the referendum passes it
will not prompt any action. Rather, it will be a statement to the
administration demonstrating what the students want to see happen with
marijuana policy.

"I don't know the official UCSU stance on it," said Bralish, "but from
my perspective it seems like we'd be conflicting with the state's policy."

She said the referendum will send a message counter to the
university's policy, but it is a blurry line because the university is
a state institution.

"Let's see what the students think and then we can act accordingly,"
said Bralish.

Currently, CU students and SAFER are working to get the 1,000
signatures needed to get the referendum on the ballot. If successful,
the referendum will be voted on during the coming spring election.

According to Bralish, 10 percent of the entire CU student population
must vote in favor of the referendum to pass and be presented to the

"There has never been a case of fatal marijuana overdose in history,"
said Cisneros. "How many more students need to drink themselves to
death before our colleges turn to safer, more sensible alcohol and
marijuana policies?" 
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