ASG elects Speaker, discusses new drug policy

    Time to get blazed on campus? Not exactly. 

    ASG brought up legislation regarding changes to Northwestern's marijuana policy at its meeting this Wednesday, in addition to electing a new Speaker of the Senate.

    Weinberg senior Matthew Clarkston will serve as the new Speaker of the Senate, following the departure of former Speaker Noah Whinston earlier this year, who recently left Northwestern to serve as CEO at a start-up in California. Clarkston has been serving as interim Speaker.

    ASG then discussed a resolution advocating that Northwestern’s drug policy be updated to align more closely with the The Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Pilot Program Act, which was passed in early 2014. The act legalizes possession and use of medical marijuana for patients who are afflicted by 39 listed conditions, including cancer, Crohn’s disease and seizures caused by epilepsy. The resolution was authored by Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Northwestern (SSDP).

    Currently, students who are in possession of medical marijuana under the new state act are in violation of the University’s drug policy, according to the resolution.

    “Northwestern students who are enrolled in the medical cannabis pilot program would benefit from being able to consume non-smokable forms of cannabis on campus, and would not be posing a public health risk to others,” the resolution states.

    Under the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, both private and public universities could lose federal funding, including federal student financial aid, if they fail to “[adopt and implement] a program to prevent the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol by students and employees” or have “in place a drug and alcohol abuse prevention program for its students and employees.”

    NU’s 2015-2016 student handbook states that “the use, possession, manufacture, cultivation, dissemination, or being under the influence of medical marijuana on University property or at University-related activities is and shall remain prohibited,” due to the fact that the state law conflicts with the federal act.

    Caroline Naughton, a Weinberg senior representing SSDP, introduced the resolution with IFC senator and Weinberg senior Jonathan Kamel. She emphasized that the goal was to allow students who are “legal medical cannabis patients” to be able to comply with both state law and university policy on campus.

    She compared using prescription marijuana to using controlled substances such as prescription Adderall and Xanax, which are allowed on campus.

    “We do acknowledge that students use marijuana for nonmedical purposes and we’re not advocating for that on campus,” Naughton said during a Q-and-A with members of ASG.

    Naughton also noted that the resolution mainly addresses the use of non-smokable forms of medical marijuana.

    “We’re not advocating for a free-for all,” said Kamel, in response to a concern that other students could be exposed to the drug unwittingly. He re-iterated that the resolution addresses medical users and uses, licensed and regulated by the state act.

    Addressing the concern that Northwestern could lose federal funding if the policy were adopted, Kamel said that the resolution was “a symbolic gesture.” Voting will take place next week on the resolution.


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