Student civil liberties 'up in smoke' at SMC

While the possession and use of medical marijuana is legal under California State law, it remains illegal under federal drug laws. Now SMC students who require the use of legally prescribed medical marijuana have become the latest casualties in California's ongoing struggle with the U.S.'s federal drug policy. At a time when federal funding for education has become increasingly sparse, it is understandable that the Santa Monica College administration continues to quietly acquiesce to federal pressure in an attempt to keep its funding.

The District Planning and Advisory Council recently voted unanimously in favor of prohibiting both the possession and use of marijuana on campus. The Administrative Regulation 2430 was introduced in order to clarify regulations surrounding medical marijuana use. The policy upholds the existing federal stance that marijuana, prescribed or otherwise, is illegal.

I sympathize with the unfortunate few students who genuinely require marijuana's unique holistic medicinal properties to get through a school day. However, I am keenly aware that the majority of medical marijuana prescribees are smoking to cure nothing more than boredom or melancholy. While the practical application of cannabis to treat the blues is entirely acceptable, I would contend that the15-minute break between classes is not necessarily the best time to "pass the Dutchie."

According to Reuters News Agency, 56 percent of Americans still oppose outright legalization. However, 81 percent support legalizing marijuana for medical use, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

It is time the federal government accepts that medical marijuana is a viable treatment for numerous illnesses. It is time to listen to the vast majority of American citizens in favor of medical marijuana. It is time to accept that reefer madness is a work of fiction and that television is probably more detrimental to the moral fabric of this country than pot.

It's really quite simple: take a vote, if the majority of the country supports legalizing marijuana – do it. Problem solved. Too often the moral subjectivities of a minority with an agenda lead to policy that doesn't fairly represent the people. It seems the issue of medical marijuana is just another such instance.

While prohibiting the use of medicinal marijuana on campus is indeed unjust, it is at least understandable. The last thing the college administration needs when the accreditation board pays their annual visit is a thick cloud of chronic smoke and a bass line of bongo drums ushering officials onto the SMC campus. It is unfortunate, however, that law-abiding students will continue to suffer at the hands of bungling bureaucrats for the foreseeable future.

Regardless of the motivation behind any individual's use of medical marijuana, this new SMC policy is simply further evidence for the need of comprehensive drug policy reform. The numerous logistical conflicts resulting from discrepancies in federal and state legislation underscore the importance that state and federal laws operate symbiotically, rather than independently of each other.

The Santa Monica College administration is not at fault, they are simply engaging in the common practice of self-preservation. Rather, the federal and state policies that contradict and compete with each other are to blame for the confusion that continues to surround medical marijuana practices and policies.