Friday, October 02, 2009

Revisiting Reefer Madness

Mountain Lupine
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
It’s been a long time since I last smoked pot. And for the record, I really did inhale.

So much for getting elected to any kind of public office.

Looking back on it now, it wasn’t that big of a deal to me, nor did I ever come to “appreciate” its mind-altering spells. I wasn’t a regular—never bought weed from anyone, and in general, it wasn’t required for a good time. My memories of marijuana usage are mostly of delirious laughter, sudden cravings for junk food and becoming almost too aware of everything around me. I was never out of control, didn’t wreck any cars, or become hostile toward another as the result of smoking marijuana—some of which I have demonstrated as a “recreational drinker.” I never experimented with or considered other drugs either.

As a football cheerleader for Arizona State University in 1979 and 1980, I was lucky enough to visit all the other Pac-10 campuses when we travelled for football games on the road. I remember Palo Alto, California and walking across campus at Stanford University to the sights and smells of people smoking marijuana along the school’s pedestrian malls. Yes, this was the same Stanford University known for its rich history of academics—where they declared, “Harvard… the Stanford of the East.” Nevertheless, I was quite taken back because I’d never seen anything like that on the campus of my conservative and mainstream-academic ASU.

That was another time apparently.

Last week, four Northwest College students were charged for being under the influence of marijuana in Powell, Wyoming—also my workplace. Two of these students were led out of the dormitory in handcuffs and later evicted from their campus housing residence. After the dust settled, Powell Police officials and their drug dogs were unable to find any illegal substances in the dorm room. According to the student newspaper, the only thing that was found was a roach in the bathroom’s shower drain. Although it did not have any marijuana in it, the papers tested positive for THC.

Talk about a witch hunt.

They’ll probably all pee down one another’s legs if they ever uncover a student with a dime bag in their room. Maybe Powell, Wyoming and Northwest College should put in a bid as the next setting/location for the remake of Reefer Madness.

What makes all of this so embarrassing for me as an employee of this (typically) fine institution is that our campus is a “dry” campus; where the possession of alcohol—especially by those under 21-years of age—is illegal and should be considered as severe as one in possession of marijuana. Yet, students aren’t kicked out of the dorms if they are found with alcohol—even if there is a case of it in their room. But, if there is even a trace of marijuana on an individual or in their room, they’re a gonner!

As an illustration to this inconsistency of tolerance, take a stroll through one of the college parking lots near the dorms and you’ll likely see several empty beer cans in the back of just as many pick-up trucks.

But you know, marijuana is a controlled substance. And in the eyes of some, it appears to be considered more dangerous than alcohol and thus it is somehow “more illegal.” Yet, over the years our campus has lost several students to alcohol-related car accidents—not counting a brutal murder that involved alcohol several years ago. On the other hand, marijuana usage has probably contributed significantly to the late-night sales of Powell’s only 24-hour supermarket.

Some folks just don’t get it—and in this case, it appears to be the college’s administration and the Powell Law Enforcement.

Northwest College would make significant gains if it simply did one of two things in an effort to be fair and consistent—get tougher with alcohol offenders or back off on those who are found with marijuana or under its influence. I’d like to think that the latter of these two options would be sufficient especially if an offending student is making significant progress in their education.

Postscript: Another one of the four students involved in the above campus incident was evicted from his dorm room because a scale was found in his room. The campus resource officer determined it could be used for drugs, the student agreed that indeed a scale could be used for such activity although he did not say that was how he used it. Nevertheless, he was evicted for the admission. Finally, the NWC registrar stepped in and cancelled the eviction after hearing the student’s account. Finally, some rationale thinking is beginning to surface.


Frank Quarters said...

It's as if the formerly opposable thumbs of our town and college are devolving off the vine. Shame on the hysterical, self righteous who wield such power. When will this place of higher learning also utilize higher thoughts and rationale?

Anonymous said...

It's time to take the Powell Police off campus. I think they have more pressing problems than busting some laid-back kid for possessing a roach … or a scale … Heck, they could be following those same students every time they leave campus … hold them for 3 hours without charging them with anything … hmm, lots of other fun things for little men in uniforms to do off campus.
Bitter, I'm not bitter …

Slim Hartack said...

Yep, double, triple or multiple standards exist and selective enforcement continues. Nothing new here and it is all still troubling. Two of the most deadly drugs - alcohol and tobacco - are minimally regulated, cocaine users in Europe and America cause untold misery for peasant farmers in South America and big expensive tax payer funded outlays for interdiction programs. While the price of cocaine and other controlled substances fluctuates only a little. None of this seems rational. All of it fits the notion that if you following the money you'll get the real story.

Ronda Peer said...

Morgan, why do you continue to work at that horrible institution that just willy-nilly fires people and then arrests students for MAYBE smoking pot?

Morgan said...


I guess this is one of those "love it or leave it" suggestions coming from you. I thought you had a little more to add to such discussions than a made-over cliché. Nevertheless, I'll just simply answer your question with this: from my perspective, there's always room for improvement. Many folk in our institution (some faculty included) are quick to slap one another on the back (sometimes themselves), so we don't need another "back-slapper" around here as far as I'm concerned—despite the certain popularity it brings one. Further, just because one may like where they are/who they work for doesn't mean they can't ask questions or be critical, does it? Granted, I don't have the tack, smoothness or grace as an administrator-type like yourself when bringing up such matters, but more importantly, it gets out there.

But really Ronda, I'm hardly the only one who feels what I frequently speak out. In fact, many of my comments are originating from others—most of whom feel it would be risky for their job if they were to speak it themselves (whether they are right or not about such risks).

If you really have something to add about these things that you mentioned—specifics that may point out my error, please bring them to the table (here I guess) since no one wants to have an open forum with the "community" that is our campus.

Here's my cliché question for you: When did you become "the man?"