UA must change marijuana policy

UA must change marijuana policy

I will never forget the first time my mom asked if I could buy marijuana for her.

I was shocked – my mother, a staunch Roman Catholic conservative, the woman who gave me the earliest curfew out of all of my friends all throughout high school, was asking me for help getting edibles. But when she started explaining to me how her debilitating migraines were getting progressively worse, so bad that even the strongest prescription medication they could give her wasn’t working, it wasn’t just some funny anecdote to me anymore. It was my mother, who was suffering, and who was willing to do absolutely anything to try to alleviate her pain.

Luckily, we live in California, where medicinal marijuana is legal and relatively easy to obtain. Admittedly, there are many people who use it for more recreational purposes, but the fact that it is available as a resource for those in need is incredibly important. Marijuana can do so much to alleviate the pain, lack of appetite, anxiety and depression that afflicts those with chronic illnesses, especially those with cancer. Alabama currently only allows for the use of CBD, a cannabis extract that is expensive and hard to obtain, to treat severe epileptic conditions. There are so many other conditions that could be treated by more common forms of marijuana that should be legal and readily available. This expansion of medicinal marijuana access would be an act of compassion for those in need.

Legalizing marijuana and changing the perception around it is necessary not only to help the chronically ill, but also students right here on our campus. Of course, the University administration cannot ignore state and federal laws, and until state laws are changed, administration must outlaw the possession or sale of marijuana on campus grounds. However, what it can do is stand against the unethical and dangerous practice of using students as drug informants.

Marijuana does not kill. Marijuana does not put students in danger. What does put students in danger is forcing them to act as drug snitches in a system composed of Tuscaloosa Police Department and UAPD members. Students arrested for possession or dealing are told by the police that if they act as an informant, they will have their charges either lowered or dropped. Confused, scared college students with visions of future employers doing background checks see no other option out, and are thus manipulated into becoming drug informants. Since these type of informant programs have been instituted in college campuses across the country, there have been multiple deaths of students murdered when put into risky and unpredictable drug-deal situations. In addition, student informants often report feeling isolated, anxious and scared after they are asked to turn in even their closest friends.

The University of Alabama needs to condemn these practices and remove UAPD officers from the informant program team. There needs to be a shift in attitude towards marijuana at the university level so it can then transfer to a state-wide magnitude. Administration and legislators need to realize that Alabama’s intolerance to marijuana is hurting the sick, hurting students and helping no one. 

Marissa Cornelius is a sophomore majoring in secondary education - social sciences.

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