SUNORML aims to change pot policy

Article By: Jeff Fish

Only in its second year of existence, SUNORML, the Suffolk chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) has grown to be the biggest group on campus, with over 1,000 members, and has big plans this coming semester.

Starting after spring break, the group will run info sessions in the dorms that will outline student’s rights as far as Suffolk’s marijuana policies are concerned, and then launch a drive to revise the current marijuana policy at Suffolk.

According to junior Jeff Morris, president of SUNORML, the punishments for marijuana use are much harsher than the punishments for alcohol use. During yesterday’s SUNORML meeting, Morris talked about a student who was fined $150 dollars for having a grinder in his dorm room. Students can either get in trouble for possession, smoking, or having paraphernalia. This student got in trouble for both paraphernalia and possession. The fine for getting caught with alcohol is only $35.

Morris added that “there’s some confusion between Mass. laws and school rules.  There’s a completely different policy in Mass.” For this reason, Morris and SUNORML hope to change the marijuana policy.

There have been no roadblocks from the administration, said Morris, who has already spoken to Dean Ann Coyne and Assistant Dean John Silveria, of Student Affairs. He has also spoken to Residence Life Director Rod Waters, who, according to Morris, is open to changing the policy and is waiting for SUNORML to write the language of the proposal before moving forward.

“If [the new marijuana policy] works out, it will be the culmination of everything we’ve put into this group in the past few years,” said SUNORML Vice President Mike Littlehale, 2011.

Senior Jim Emory, SUNORML’s treasurer, added that they went from being a new club on campus last year to being recognized by an administration that seems open to their ideas. “I didn’t think that things would move so swiftly. Getting clearance from the administration to hold the info sessions is amazing.”

SUNORML plans to start with the info sessions before introducing the new policy, so that students will be aware of the issue. They will outline students’ rights, warn students of the repercussions of smoking pot in the dorms, explain Mass. marijuana laws, and focusing on safety, particularly regarding smoking in the Common. Morris also wants to convey through the sessions that SUNORML is a “resource for students” to ask any questions if they need to.

Besides working on a new policy at Suffolk, SUNORML works to reform state marijuana laws. Last Tuesday, Morris spoke in front of the state legislature for the first time in favor of a bill that would fully legalize marijuana and have the government tax and regulate it. The hearing went well according to Morris, who said that there was not a single voice of opposition to the bill.

“What if I don’t want to wake up with a hangover the next day? What if I don’t want to drink so much I’m going to be throwing up before my night is even over…? You know what I’ll do?  I’ll roll up a joint, and just relax responsibly my own way.  Marijuana isn’t for everyone, but for those of us that do use it, we shouldn’t be seen as criminals,” he told the crowd of lawmakers, many of whom “looked pissed off to be there.”

By the time he was finally able to speak, after being at the State House for six hours, many people had left, and Morris doubts that there will be any action on the bill. The legislature will most likely stall the bill and not end up voting on it, he said, but SUNORML plans to continue supporting marijuana reform laws and “educating the Suffolk University community on the topic of marijuana, it’s state and federal policies, the school’s policies, and anything else that a student may need to know in today’s society regarding cannabis.”