Theyâ€™ll stone you when youâ€™re tryinâ€™ to get stoned ...
By Amy Joseph
Relationships have become strained between campus stoners and Campus Watch after the Watch confronted the campus branch of NORML (The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana
Laws) several times during their weekly Friday 4:20 â€˜smoke upsâ€™.
NORML leader Abe Gray says that the group has an â€˜arrangementâ€™ with the Proctor which allowed them to smoke cannabis on the Union
Lawn every week as a form of protest against what they view as unjust prohibition laws, and to educate other students on the issue. While not
supporting the groupâ€™s actions, the University has turned a blind eye for the past few years the smoke up has been running.
With the introduction of Campus Watch earlier this year, NORML members were worried about the attitude Watch members would take to the smoke up. Gray says that he spoke informally with many Watch members during Orientation, and was assured that they would not be
concerned with busting NORML members participating in the event.
However, in the final weeks of last semester, Campus Watch members visited the smoke up in order to make sure that underage smokers or non-students were not participating. There has been concern that some non-students attending the group are known â€œpetty criminals.â€ Those smokers who were unable to show student IDs
were escorted off campus.
While Gray feels that these concerns are reasonable, participants are understandably uncomfortable at providing ID while openly engaging in an illegal activity. Gray is annoyed that the Proctor did not approach the leaders of NORML and give them the opportunity to deal with any such problems internally before Campus Watch were called in. He also points out that, under the OUSA constitution, affiliated clubs may have up to ten percent non-student membership.
After discussions with the Proctor, NORML continued the weekly smoke up this semester. At the first gathering for the semester, the group were once again approached by Campus Watch, this time because they had put a sign depicting a marijuana leaf on a tree on the Union Lawn.
The Watch told them they had to remove their sign from University property.
The University has been reluctant to comment on the sudden increased focus on the 4:20 smoke up. Student Support Services Director David Richardson has said, â€œThe University cannot condone illegal activity. Our policy for dealing with students smoking cannabis on campus is for the Proctorâ€™s Office to intervene and deal with the individual students. If individuals who are not students are involved and openly smoking cannabis on campus, the matter will be referred to the police.â€ Critic has been unable to ascertain why there has been an increase in University interest in the smoke up after years of tolerance towards the weekly gathering.
Due to a motion passed at an OUSA Student General Meeting last year, OUSA officially â€œcondones the public smoking of cannabis on university grounds as protest against cannabis prohibition.â€ OUSA president Renee Heal says that â€˜condoneâ€™ has been defined as â€˜overlookâ€™ by the organisation, and they will not be actively supporting students who smoke marijuana on campus as a form of protest. She also stresses
that OUSA has no obligation to non-students involved. However, she say, â€œItâ€™s important that the club, that is affiliated to OUSA, feels
supported,â€ so she has been working with Gray and the Proctor to try and negotiate some kind of â€œgentlemenâ€™s agreement that basically means that what has been going on for the past few years will be allowed to continue to go on.â€