Pubdate: Wed, 28 Sep 2011
Source: Diamondback, The (U of MD Edu)
Copyright: 2011 Diamondback
Author: Maria Romas
Bookmark: (Students for Sensible Drug Policy)


Group Hopes Policy Will Extend Coverage to Drugs

Members of Students for Sensible Drug Policy are gearing up for a 
familiar fight this semester -- pushing for a Good Samaritan policy 
that applies to those under the influence of drugs.

After a three-year push from members of the university community -- 
including many in SSDP -- the University Senate approved an official 
Good Samaritan policy in March, which protects dangerously 
intoxicated students from university sanction if they call for help 
for themselves or a friend. While this is the first full semester it 
will be enforced, members of SSDP said they are already mobilizing 
different on-campus groups to extend the policy to students on drugs.

"There's really no reason it shouldn't be [added to the policy]," 
said Brandon Levey, former SSDP co-president and current 
undergraduate senator. "If a person is overdosing on some other drug, 
they shouldn't be scared to call for help."

Although several other undergraduate students have championed an 
all-inclusive Good Samaritan policy over the last few years, nothing 
ever came to fruition, with many officials citing legal reasons as a 
major deterrent. Levey said he is working on a senate proposal to get 
the discussion going again, but he may face similar problems this time around.

University Senate Chair Eric Kasischke said he is not sure the 
proposal is plausible from a legal standpoint because being in 
possession of alcohol underage is simply a misdemeanor, whereas 
possession of drugs is sometimes a felony.

"Where possession of alcohol underage is a civil violation of law, 
moving into unlawful drug violation is criminal," said University 
Police spokesman Capt. Marc Limansky. "It's kind of crossing over a line."

However, Kasischke said he is still open to discussing the matter.

Kasischke said while people generally recognize drinking as a problem 
on college campuses, they tend to diminish the role drugs play.

"I think there's a dichotomy in play here, because on the one hand we 
all want to protect the students and prevent tragic things from 
happening," Kasischke said. "But society has a much different 
attitude toward drug use than they have toward alcohol use. So, even 
though having alcohol underage is illegal, people are more willing to 
[get behind] alcohol-related incidents than drug-related incidents."

Limansky said officers are not bound by the policy -- whether it 
pertains to alcohol or drugs -- when deciding whether or not to 
charge a student with possession.

"If we get to scene and feel a person has to be charged or sent to 
the Office of Student Conduct, we do that," he said. "Then, the 
Office of Student Conduct decides if it falls under the Good 
Samaritan protocol. It doesn't really affect our behavior; we decide 
whatever criminal charges are appropriate given the situation."

But Levey said he still plans to push for the expansion, noting he's 
reached out to Student Government Association representatives for 
support. SGA President Kaiyi Xie said he has begun to set up meetings 
about expanding the policy and hopes to nail down some details soon.

"A lot of schools and states have a Good Samaritan policy this 
comprehensive," Levey said. "We are really hoping that we will be 
able to emulate that here. It's definitely in the initial stages, but 
it's something we are planning on doing this year."
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