Following Up on Views of Campus Drug and Alcohol Policies

Drew Kaplan ‘20, Opinion Columnist

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In last week’s issue of The Dickinsonian, I authored a piece regarding the disparity between how the college treats marijuana vs. alcohol. I feel that this is a loaded topic, and that a second article is needed. I find it truly mind boggling the stance that the college takes in regards to drugs and drug safety. And while I do understand that, from a legal standpoint, marijuana is a controlled substance at the federal level, whereas alcohol is not.

However, science tells us that alcohol is more damaging to the body than marijuana. However, here is a vast ocean of difference in how the college handles marijuana and alcohol. In a place of inquiry, I find it odd that experimentation is so frowned upon. Now, if it truly does become harmful to someone, that is a different story, but smoking a joint is, in my mind, not grounds for suspension, especially when binge drinking is only grounds for a letter home.

The college even refuses to recognize medical marijuana. Despite its legality in Pennsylvania, the college will suspend a student for making use of legally prescribed medicine.

This type of punitive policy is not conducive to a modern learning environment. As much as the college would not like to admit it, members of the Dickinson community smoke marijuana and drink alcohol. There is no sense in attempting to snuff out a joint when turning a blind eye to the bottle. I see no reason other than old style fear mongering to continue with the prohibition of marijuana at Dickinson College.

In terms of economics, the College’s approach, like the government’s, is to attack the supply of marijuana, while paying little mind to the demand. Anyone with a sense of economics can see that this system doesn’t work. A more correct approach would be to remove demand first, but when supply decreases, with demand constant, all that occurs is a price increase. However, the demand remains.

The college seems to simply be following the law by the continuance of its current policy. However, if the College really were to follow the law, I would ask that it follow it uniformly. DPS should crack down on parties, and instead of breaking them up, every participant who even appears to be buzzed should be put through the conduct system. Anyone caught with a case of beer should be expelled for intention to distribute. A single can of beer should be grounds for suspension. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

But replace alcohol with marijuana, and it becomes reality. This dichotomy doesn’t make sense in a place on inquiry. The tide against marijuana is turning, and sooner or later, I foresee that marijuana will be fully legal from sea to shining sea.

However, in the meantime, I see no reason for Dickinson College to ruin the enthusiasm of students, students who chose Dickinson for a reason, because they want to be here, all because the student wishes to experiment a bit. As I see it, either the college must follow the law to the letter, and crack down on alcohol, which I see as an impossibility, or the college must treat marijuana as it does alcohol, with the same tacit acceptance. I vote for the latter.

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