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A Green Campus: Marijuana legalization and Chemeketa

By Byron Kimball

By now, every Chemeketa student has gotten used to the sight of posters and booths around campus, advocating for the legalization of marijuana.

As pro-legalization movements around the country pick up speed, there’s no doubt that people wonder whether Oregon Measure 91, which if voted into law would legalize the possession of marijuana for recreational use, will affect campus policy.

For instance, some students have asked whether smoking marijuana would be allowed in the designated smoking area off campus.

“Theoretically, yes,” Bill Kohlmeyer, Chemeketa’s Public Safety director, said. He pointed out, however, that campus drug policies have yet to be reviewed for this year.

Even if the measure passes and becomes state law, it wouldn’t mean that a student could smoke marijuana freely before class.

“If you walk into class with alcohol on your breath, or marijuana, you’re probably not going to be able to participate in class,” Kohlmeyer said. “You can’t come to class intoxicated. There’s no difference whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine.”

In odd-numbered years, the Chemeketa Board of Education reviews current drug and alcohol policies and has the authority to amend it as needed.

Should Measure 91 pass, students one can expect that awareness programs concerning marijuana possession and use may be on the horizon.

Milo Fraizer, the ambassador of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy Club, a Chemeketa student group, said, “I believe that Measure 91 is a great step forward in drug policy reform.

“With it, we will see many of the same results that Colorado has benefitted from, such as a reduction in crime, fewer car accidents, and increased revenue for schools,” he said.

While the policy may have little effect on the day-to-day life of Chemeketa students, Fraizer said that students might benefit from increased tax revenue generated by legal marijuana sales, along with “a greater comfort for students who are currently stigmatized for marijuana use.”

Brad Reed, a spokesman for pro-marijuana advocate Rick Steves, said that students should care about the results of Measure 91.

“Any student working his or her way through school doesn’t want to see the tax money they pay wasted on a failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” he said.

“Measure 91 isn’t pro-pot. It’s pro-regulation. … It’s about taking a marijuana market that is already here … away from the criminal underground … and into licensed, inspected, and properly-zoned businesses that operate under the law.”

Steves, a popular author and travel host on NPR, was in Oregon recently to support the measure.

Regardless of what Oregon voters decide, Chemeketa drug policy is expected to reflect the ever-shifting attitudes of state voters.

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