Legalizing marijuana unlikely to affect colleges

Using or possessing marijuana is against Elon University’s honor code and code of conduct. Photo by Rebecca Wickel.

Washington and Colorado voters recently legalized recreational use of marijuana, initiating a national debate. Should North Carolina follow suit and allow adults 21 and older to buy up to an ounce of dried marijuana, college campuses in the area are unlikely to see big changes. But Elon University students, staff and visitors disagreed on the consequences of a hypothetical legalization.

“I think there would be a lot less arrests for students and judicial hearings. I think it would cut down the kids getting in trouble for it,” senior Joe Ziemba said.

Elon University currently prohibits marijuana and drug paraphernalia on campus and in university housing. Violators of these rules are in violation of the honor code, and must face a hearing and disciplinary action.

“I think it should because so many people do it and get in trouble for it,” freshman Clare Maher said. “A lot of my friends wouldn’t be written up, and I think a lot of people would be doing it out and in the open, like cigarettes.”

Results of a 2009 survey of Americans, conducted by CBS News. Graphic by CBS News.

But according to Chris Jamison, student conduct case manager at the Office of Student Conduct, university policies are unlikely to change regardless of federal law.

“A lot of institutions would stand their ground,” Jamison said. “I think it would pose some challenges since at most colleges it is against official rules.”

Jamison said he believes few universities in North Carolina would change their honor codes or conduct laws to allow the use of marijuana by students of legal age. Rather, he thinks the treatment of the drug will mirror current rules regarding alcohol.

He said he does believe the use of marijuana on Elon’s campus will increase, because it will easier to obtain.

But students are not the only proponent’s of the drug’s legalization. Pat and Tom Shaffter from California are in North Carolina visiting family in Burlington, and they said they believe the drug should be allowed under the law.

Pat (left) and Tom Shaffer both support the legalization of recreational marijuana, and believe it could have positive affects both on and off college campuses. Photo by Rebecca Wickel.

“I definitely favor legalizing marijuana,” Tom said. “I don’t think it would lead to excessive use on college campuses.”

Students agreed. Ziemba said he believes students interested in using the drug are already doing it, and legalization will not entice any new users.

“If they wanted to, they’d already be doing it,” he said. “It’s not hard to get your hands on.”

Pat Shaffer said she thinks there could be other benefits to legalizing marijuana.

“We could tax it, and it might cut down violence in Mexico,” she said.

Although North Carolina does not have any proposed legislation regarding the legalization of marijuana, the issue is still alive and well on Elon University’s campus.

“Honestly, a lot of people do it,” Ziemba said.

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