Friday, August 21, 2009

Support the SAFER alternative. Legalize Marijuana for safer recreational choices on campuses

The Book Bomb yesterday lifted Marijuana is SAFER: So Why Are We Driving People To Drink up to #14 on the Amazon Best Sellers list.

The authors then put up an excerpt from their book on Alternet, "Campus Hypocrisy: Marijuana Is Safer, But Students Are Pushed to More Dangerous Booze" and I'm going to highlight my favorite bits:

Universities ... are not legally obligated to establish stringent penalties, such as enforcing zero-tolerance housing policies or barring students with minor pot violations from ever holding student office, as is the policy of the University of Maryland at College Park. More importantly, they are under no legal obligation to treat students who illegally possess marijuana on campus more severely than they sanction students who illegally possess alcohol. Yet most colleges do and often for no reason other than a perceived need to reflect existing societal differences. And by maintaining these disparate punishments in the face of student opposition, university governments and their boards of trustees are making a conscious, if inadvertent, decision to steer students toward the use of alcohol.

And what are the ramifications of these kinds of campus policies? First, as we all know, the use of alcohol by college students is rampant. According to data from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, approximately 80 percent of college students drink alcohol. Figures for binge drinking are even more startling. For instance, more than 44 percent of students surveyed in 2001 said that they had engaged in binge drinking in the preceding two weeks, and more than 22 percent had done so at least three times in that time period. Predictably, these frequent binge drinkers?and those around them?often suffer as a result. As described by George Dowdall in College Drinking, "[F]requent binge drinkers were 7 to 10 times more likely than the nonbinge drinkers to get into trouble with the campus police, damage property or get injured, not use protection when having sex, or engage in unplanned sexual activity."

The social consequences of all this student drinking are even more alarming. At the most tragic level, alcohol abuse is a leading cause of fatalities on college campuses. In 2001, there were an estimated 1,700 alcohol-related unintentional-injury deaths among college students and others aged 18 to 24. (all emphasis mine) But these deaths are just the tip of the alcohol-related-injury iceberg. Researchers estimate that every year approximately 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol. Of course, those who drink are not the only ones adversely affected. Even more disturbing is the number of injuries to others that are caused by students under the influence of alcohol. Each year approximately 700,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by students who have been drinking, and close to 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. Yet these raw numbers only tell part of the story. The much broader impact of alcohol abuse on campus is evident when one looks at the percentage of violent acts that are booze-related. According to a 1994 report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), 95 percent of all campus assaults are alcohol-related, and 90 percent of all reported campus rapes involve a victim or an assailant who has been drinking alcohol.

"Virtually every sexual assault is associated with alcohol abuse. Almost every assault of any kind is related to drinking." - University of Maryland President C.D. "Dan" Mote, August 2008

But no, we have university presidents supporting the amethyst initiative while completely ignoring this SAFER alternative. I would hope that more women's groups (and also the men's group for that matter) start to recognize that supporting marijuana's legalization could have a seriously positive effect on the amount of sexual abuses of campus.

Smoke some weed. Seriously,

1 comment:

  1. There are many persuasive arguments on why America should legalize marijuana, and the reasons are sound, but the fact that many millions of Americans have used pot has not translated into real political pressure on the people who can change the laws. One of the problems inhibiting legalization is that people that smoke a glass pipe are not considered serious or mature. It is This stigma that scares many pot users to hide that they smoke pot. Therefore the Reality of who smokes pot and how much the smoke is very different than it seems. The last three presidents were admitted pot users and by my Understanding the same is probably true of the first three presidents as well. Marijuana Legislation is very serious and has everything with how we define what it means to be American. What credence do we as Americans give the rights of the individual to the pursuit of happiness as well as a right to privacy? In the end it is up to us to be public about our choices and to Voice our opinions to the ones that ultimately decide what the rules are. Every hand written Letter that makes it to a representative is considered to be the voice of a thousand people who did not take the time to write. Send an email, send a letter make a phone call and get counted.