Source: North Texas Daily
Led by a mock cop car emblazoned with a marijuana leaf and topped with flashing green lights, students from UNT’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws marched Monday afternoon to promote awareness of marijuana laws and reform.
“Police officers sometimes stop us, but I think they are more curious than anything,” said David Sloan, public information officer for the DFW NORML chapter. “They know we are mocking them, but they are cool with it.”
A crowd flaunted signs and chanted slogans encouraging attendees and passersby to embrace the organization’s viewpoints on marijuana laws and culture.
During the spring semester, the organization worked with UNT’s Student Government Association to author a bill calling for consequences for residence hall drug violations to be equal to the much more lenient punishments for alcohol violations.
The bill – which would have presented the issue for an unofficial student opinion poll – was passed and then accidentally deleted before it could be brought to students.
However, the message wasn’t lost on administrators, who quietly amended the dorms’ alcohol and drug policy during the summer.
“The new policy allows students to have a fresh start and learn from their mistakes,” said Maureen McGuiness, UNT’s dean of students.
In the past, UNT had a zero-tolerance policy for students living in a dorm who were caught with any marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia. Offenders were immediately evicted and made to pay a $1,000 breach-of-contract fee.
Although the policy for drug possession remains the same, the university now distinguishes between drug possession and possession of paraphernalia, devices used to consume illegal. If a student is found with paraphernalia or seeds, he or she now avoids paying the fee and being evicted from the dorms altogether, and is instead transferred to a new hall and made to take a drug education class.
McGuinness said regardless of university rules or guidelines, marijuana is illegal in Texas, and UNT policy will continue to reflect that. She said the paraphernalia distinction was added after conversations with members of UNT NORML.
Nikki Kidd, president of the UNT NORML chapter, said UNT’s policy change is a start for what the organization hopes to achieve.
Chapter Vice President Alex Teuscher said he was subject to the old consequences when he was found with his friend’s marijuana grinder in his dorm room.
According to UNT’s Crime Security Awareness and Prevention report, there were 54 disciplinary referrals for drug-related violations in 2009. Statistics for 2010 will be released in October.