Pubdate: Wed, 06 Sep 2006
Source: Diamondback, The (U of MD Edu)
Copyright: 2006 Diamondback
Author: Scott Ratner


Megan Maizel's Sept. 5 column "Marijuana lobby aims off target"
contributed yet another opinion to the ongoing, hotly contested
marijuana debate, and though the column provided several insightful
points, it lacked sufficient arguments that should change anyone's
mind about this issue.

First and foremost, the author's belief that last year's referendum,
in which students overwhelmingly showed their support to decrease
punishment for marijuana-related offenses on the campus, should
represent only a symbolic victory is false. NORML and SSDP clearly do
not have the clout to alter our country's national policy on illegal
drugs. As such, working to amend policy at the university level is a
goal not only worth working toward, but one within reasonable reach.

Furthermore, why does the author describe the aims of the two groups
to be "ludicrous"? Whatever happened to "where there's a will, there's
a way"? For years, groups have advocated revolutionizing laws and
policies they saw to be unjust, and have they had any success? The
Civil Rights Movement, women's suffrage and the fight for free public
education are examples of movements that few would have ever thought
possible, but through hard work and determination were not only
achieved, but have also become so ingrained in our culture that few
can imagine life without the goals they worked toward. Not to draw a
comparison between the significance of altering the university
marijuana policy and changes brought by these movements, but to say it
cannot be done diminishes the value of steadfast dedication to
influence policy, a notion so essential and fundamental to our country.

More importantly, the author of the editorial overlooks another
important fact when asserting our university policy should reflect the
national illegal status of marijuana.

Granted, marijuana is illegal, a fact everyone needs to take into
account before challenging the law, but the goal of NORML and SSDP --
as reflected by the referendum -- only asserts how our administration
should look at the offense, not the police. Our university policy
should reflect our own ideals and values, which as the marijuana lobby
on the campus as well as the majority of the student body affirm,
should be more progressive. The referendum makes no mention of how the
police should treat offenders. Therefore, it is unreasonable to say
that changing the status of marijuana on campus "would create a
mockery out of our state and national laws." Complacency to such
ridiculous and outlandish drug policies without raising our voices and
trying to make a difference would, in fact, make a mockery of
everything this country stands for.

Scott Ratner


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