Elias Atienza is a history sophomore and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints and editorial coverage of Mustang News.
Marijuana, the substance college students use without telling their parents, is illegal under federal law. Despite California’s legalization of recreational weed (and regardless of the fact that it was one of the first states to legalize it for medical use), if you are caught smoking it on campus, you could be arrested.
The administration cites the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a narcotic to justify this policy.
However, this protocol is more confusing than a stoner trying to tell a story, because the administration has no issue refusing to enforce federal laws in other circumstances.
Under federal law, if you’re an undocumented immigrant, you ought to be deported. I’m not saying you should be deported, that’s the federal law.
Most undocumented students are protected by the executive order signed by former president Barack Obama a few years ago called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). While President Donald Trump hasn’t actually expunged DACA, he has signed conflicting executive orders. This leaves DREAMers (students protected by DACA), in a legal gray area and has left our school’s administration to ostensibly break federal law by not complying with federal immigration officers.
The dispute produced by these conflicting executive orders is arguably analogous to the place marijuana is in right now. One law deems it legal, while another questions its legitimacy. However, despite the situational similarities, Cal Poly’s administration chooses to handle the two situations in very different ways. This picking and choosing of which federal laws to enforce and which to let slide is morally dubious and outside the delegated powers of the school’s administration. Cal Poly hasn’t explicitly stated why they choose to handle each situation differently, but let’s examine some potential arguments in favor of their policy.
If the administration’s argument about why they refuse to enforce immigration reform is that the laws aren’t structured to actually protect the people of this country, I point to the nature of marijuana itself. Pot is essentially a victimless crime. Pot doesn’t harm as many people per year as alcohol – unless you include making them hungry and drying out their mouths. In fact, there is some research that validates the idea that medical marijuana actually has medical benefits. Yet still, you can’t light up a joint of the devil’s lettuce unless you’re in the privacy of your own home.
For those who point to the purported toxic culture around consumption as justification for our bud ban, I remind you that drinking on campus is allowed. Mustang Station sells alcohol right in the middle of campus (finally transforming this place into a wet campus). You are also allowed to drink alcohol if the Coordinator of Student Development allows it in the resident hall or apartment. But God forbid you smoke a joint for medical purposes. You’re now SOL if you’re 21 and living on campus because you can’t afford to live anywhere else because San Luis Obispo hates college students.
Let’s get to the bottom line. The Cal Poly administration clearly thinks they have the moral capacity to choose which federal laws to enforce; they exhibit their discretionary capabilities by rejecting immigration reforms. The administration also obviously thinks that a culture of consumption can be regulated and controlled, as shown by our wet campus. So there is no reason to continue to enforce these regressive and baseless laws surrounding the prohibition of marijuana.
Now, don’t start smoking weed on campus (looking at you, fellow libertarians) just to piss off the administration. Do it to point out the hypocrisy. Cal Poly’s administration is picking and choosing which federal laws to enforce. They are obviously not opposed to selective-enforcement of federal laws, but if you need weed for medical purposes, you’ll probably be hauled to the county jail quicker than a libertarian yelling “Muh roads!”
As Ron Paul wrote in 1987, “Young people remain skeptical of a generation that kills ten times as many with alcohol as with hard drugs and yet pontificates about the dangers of smoking marijuana. Lack of consistency never contributes to credibility.”
A lack of consistency is always dangerous even when done for good reasons. Just ask the Muslim Student Association what they think of the administration’s consistency on security fees. There is none and this lends much credence to the accusation of administrative hypocrisy.