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 A Toke for Good Health?

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Posts : 7
Join date : 2010-03-15

PostSubject: A Toke for Good Health?   Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:18 am

Public service announcement: Put down the bottle and pick up the bong.
Well, not really, but there is growing support that the alternative to
unsafe drinking habits is a small, green plant.

Marijuana might
be illegal, and it might be an illicit psychoactive drug, but its
presence may be less harmful to the individuals in a community,
especially college campuses, than alcohol. Although nobody can argue
that widespread drug use is a good thing for any college, it is an
underlying truth that college students love to party, and many will
choose to do so under the influence of some sort consciousness-altering

In honor of the start of Alcohol Awareness
Month, students from over 80 colleges across 34 different states rallied
at their schools for more lenient policies on marijuana last week. Why?
Harsher penalties for weed lead students to drink, and they wanted that
to change. It is the belief of the group Safer Alternative for
Enjoyable Recreation, who coordinated the rallies on Apr. 1, that
universities with harsh penalties for marijuana use are actively causing
students to drink, and potentially over-consume, alcohol.

having a more permissible legal status than marijuana, consuming
alcohol has very real and very dangerous effects on college campuses.
Each year, an average of 696,000 students are assaulted by another
student who has been drinking, 1,700 students are killed annually in
alcohol related deaths, and 97,000 instances of sexual abuse are
alcohol-related. Additionally, rape is more prevalent on campuses where
binge drinking is common practice, as 72 percent of rape victims
reported being too drunk to give consent or resist. Obviously, when not
consumed in moderation, alcohol can be very dangerous.

in the abstract, it appears that marijuana is an overall safer drug.
There have been no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose, and the
potentially lethal dose of marijuana is over a thousand times the
effective dose. There is also no link between lung cancer and chronic
marijuana use, according to a study done at UCLA in 2006, yet unhealthy
alcohol consumption is known to have very detrimental effects on the

Let us assume that students will choose to party with a
type of drug and are indifferent to which one. Which one they choose is
dependent on a variety of reasons, but certainly the penalties of
consuming are one of them. Many more schools have stricter punishments
for possessing marijuana, and thus students have this in mind when they
gravitate toward the more available, and potentially more dangerous,
alcohol. Although schools should certainly not encourage the consumption
of drugs, they might consider recognizing that marijuana can be safer
alternative to binge drinking and adjusting their penalties accordingly.
At the very least, school-administered punishments for misuse of
alcohol and possessing marijuana should be equal, allowing students to
make a rational choice.

There are certainly other factors why one
would choose to drink rather than smoke. One might be the fact that
weed is illegal. However, many students might cite this as a deterrent
and still partake in the just-as-illegal act of underage drinking.
Additionally, it is true that weed is not a perfect practical substitute
for drinking, as drinking is a more “party friendly” than marijuana.
Yet another factor might be that the purchase of marijuana could bring
about negative externalities to a community, such as drug dealers,
gangs, and violence.

It seems that at this point in time, no
college or university is ready to embrace weed as an alternative to
drinking, and there are good reasons for this position. And of course,
abstaining from harmful practices such as drinking and smoking is easily
the best choice; however, college students will continue to drink. So,
on a personal level, in the spirit of Alcohol Awareness Month, students
across the nation should reflect on the substances that they put in
their bodies, and contemplate whether or not their current lifestyle is
one that they feel best maximizes their individual well-being.

L. Knudson ’13, a Crimson editorial writer, lives in Matthews Hall.

Peter L. Knudson
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