SA Senate passes marijuana reform resolution

The Student Association Senate passed a resolution Tuesday night submitted by GW’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which calls for the reduction of sanctions imposed on students caught using marijuana.

Greg Hersh, president of GW NORML, proposed that sanctions imposed for marijuana use be less than or equal to alcohol violations.

Eviction from campus housing is the minimum sanction for students caught violating drug policy, while it may take more than three liquor violations before a student is evicted from campus for illegal alcohol use, according to the GW Code of Student Conduct. However, all violations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and could be “more or less severe than what is recommended,” said Tara Woolfson, director of Student Judicial Services, in an October 2005 interview with The Hatchet.

“We need to change (the University’s) policies and reduce the harm done to students,” said Hersh, who was accompanied by a dozen NORML members at Tuesday’s meeting in the Marvin Center.

GW NORML needed to obtain 100 student signatures in a petition in order for the resolution to be introduced in the SA Senate, without a senator’s sponsorship.

“It gives much more legitimacy to our group,” said Hersh about bringing the resolution from the student body. “It shows the will of the students. The SA will now help share the responsibility.”

SA Sen. Kevin Kozlowski (ESIA-U) said that the approval of the resolution was “the most important thing” accomplished in this year’s SA.

“I have never seen so much passion,” said Kozlowski, a sophomore. “This is something submitted for students by the students.”

The resolution did face some opposition in the body. According to SA Sen. Michael Gettlin (SoB-G), a graduate student, the resolution does not properly convey NORML’s arguments to the University about conflicting regulations on alcohol and marijuana use.

“I would have preferred to see a resolution that reflected NORML’s concerns about what they perceived to be inconsistent enforcement of discipline at the University as opposed to the merits of having equal punishments for marijuana use and underage alcohol consumption,” said Gettlin, who voted against the resolution.

If signed by SA President Lamar Thorpe, a senior, the resolution will be transmitted to GW administrators and the GW Board of Trustees’ student affairs committee for consideration.

In October 2005, University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said in an interview with The Hatchet that the University will “probably not” change its drug policies. NORML has been lobbying for change of policy but has been working on developing this SA resolution since the beginning of the year.

The SA Senate also passed a “Mid-Year Review and Adjustment Act” and a resolution calling for the removal of student’s Social Security Numbers on official University transcripts and documents.

The “Adjustment Act” allocated $3,100 to student organizations and made $30,000 available in the SA co-sponsorship fund, said SA Sen. Andrew Salzman (GSEHD), chair of the finance committee. The Senate also allocated $5,000 to the Joint Elections Committee, the five-person body overseeing this year’s elections.

The senate will not meet next week. The next senate meeting is scheduled for Feb. 20, the day before the SA Elections.

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