March 3, 2012

Interview With University Of Maine At Farmington Students For Sensible Drug Policy Chapter

March 3, 2012
maine tax regulate marijuana alcohol criminal justice committee hearing

maine marijuanaUniversity of Maine at Farmington Students For Sensible Drug Policy Chapter

As I stated before, I sent out e-mails across the nation after the 2012 Cannabis Law Reform Conference hosted by Oregon Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and even to some international Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapters, with interview questions in order to write articles like this one to highlight their efforts. I will continue to post the responses as I receive them. This Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter interview on TWB will be with University of Maine at Farmington. Former President/active member Pete Anderson was kind enough to send over the following responses (TWB questions are in bold, above Pete’s responses):

How long has your Students for Sensible Drug Policy Chapter existed?
Our chapter initially formed nearly 10 years ago, as the UMaine Farmington “Cannabis Coalition,” and worked to reform campus-based drug policy. In a few short years following, we were able to officially become a recognized chapter as “UMF-SSDP.” Our claim to fame being that we are the only chapter in the state of Maine.

How many members does your Students for Sensible Drug Policy currently have?
We have a five person “Exec. Board” consisting of President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Communications Director, as well as 10-12 active members.

What is your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy doing to recruit new members?
We are aiming to tackle a new, discriminatory school-wide policy, and are attracting a lot of attention from our renewed presence in our Student Center, and a more prominent social media presence, between two FaceBook pages and a twitter account.

What are the goals of your Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter for this academic year?
Our university very sneakily implemented a campus-wide “Tobacco-Free” policy, banning all tobacco and Non-FDA approved “e-Cigarettes” from our campus. We view this as a blatant infringement of our rights as adults and paying students, so SSDP, in conjunction with the underground “UMF Responsible Smokers Union” are planning a meeting with administration and an associated rally to bring to light the inequality shown between smokers and non-smokers.

How would you describe the marijuana culture on your campus?
Being that UMF is located in rural Maine, our marijuana culture is very prevalent, fueled by multiple, local-based drug policy reform organizations, our booming medical marijuana industry, and our historically liberal campus population. Unfortunately, due to many extraneous forces, it is difficult for us to attract many action-minded individuals to our organization.

How would you describe the campus laws towards marijuana?
Our campus policies towards marijuana aren’t awful, but they’re certainly not great either. We have a one strike policy towards marijuana, meaning that if a student is caught on campus in possession of marijuana, they are not immediately removed from student housing (This policy is enforced, however may change on a case-by-case basis). A second incident results in removal from on-campus housing.

Maine, as I’ve mentioned already, is a medical marijuana state. Unfortunately, our campus is not very welcoming towards the use of medical marijuana. In fact, students who are also registered as patients will, more than likely, be required to follow the same rules and guidelines for non-patients. UMF-SSDP is working towards creating a coalition between students, administration, and campus health officials to discuss a policy change that reflects Maine’s current status.

If you could give advice to college students that are reading this interview, what would it be?
College is what you make it. It’s your present, your future, and soon to be your past. Make it be an experience you’re proud of. No matter what kind of bureaucratic bull**** you might face, ultimately your school is there for you, and sometimes you just need to remind your administration of that.

What would be the benefits of legalizing marijuana?
The benefits of legalizing marijuana are almost countless. We can end a needlessly destructive war on our own citizens, we can free up space in our already overcrowded prisons by freeing non-violent drug offenders, and we can reduce local, county, state, and national expenses by eliminating the need to prosecute non-violent marijuana users.

What are the drawbacks of continuing marijuana prohibition?
Overcrowding in prisons due to the needless incarceration of non-violent drug offenders, the destruction of the educational dreams of thousands of young people, an unnecessary sense of paranoia and fear of our government and law enforcement, an inability to domestically research, grow, or produce our own hemp and hemp products, need I continue?

How would marijuana legalization affect your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy?
Thankfully, Maine is a very progressive state in terms of marijuana policy reform (until Gov. LePage at least), having decriminalized possession of up to 1.25oz of marijuana for personal use and statewide support for medical marijuana, so I feel as though legalization as a whole would allow our chapter to focus more of our energy on student rights and campus-wide policy reform.

Do you have any Students for Sensible Drug Policy events coming up in your area?
We will be hosting our “Occupy Administration” event in response to the UMF Tobacco Free Campus Initiative, and will be attending the 2012 SSDP International Conference in Denver, CO. We are looking into hosting a policy debate, as well as a movie showing of the locally produced “Science Vs Stigma” film, which is a documentary about medical marijuana in Maine.

How can readers support your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy?
We can be reached by snail mail at:
111 South Street
Farmington, ME 04938or on our Facebook Page.Any more contact information can be acquired through the Facebook pages.


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