Ferris professional golf management freshman James Miller just wanted to grab a Gatorade from the fridge he shared with his roommate but when he opened the door, he found marijuana wax.
Miller said his former roommate smoked nearly every day in the room they shared in Brophy-McNerney. Miller said his roommate would smoke in their bathroom and then would Febreze it afterwards.
“He smoked so much weed, it was stupid,” Miller said. “I didn’t really see him much after the first few weeks but I knew if he had been in the room, because it smelled terrible.”
Miller’s roommate dropped out partway through the fall semester but he was never caught or reported with marijuana.
The possession and smoking of marijuana without a medical card is illegal in Mi chigan but because Ferris receives federal funding, possession, cultivation or distribution of marijuana—medical or not— violates the campus drug policy. The medical marijuana law is only statewide, according to the Code of Student Community Standards.
“From a criminal standpoint, our officers use discretion but we enforce it pretty tightly. You know, everyone knows it’s illegal,” Ferris Department of Public Safety (DPS) Chief Bruce Borkovich said.
Borkovich stated that in his years at Ferris, he’s seen a “slight increase” of marijuana use on campus. Though the statistics reflect a steep drop in violations of controlled substances between 2016 and 2017, Borkovich said that it’s because there was a change in the Clery Act, which requires universities that are federally funded to post crime statistics, according to the Federal Student Aid website.
“Between ’16 and ’17, classifying drug crimes changed, per that law,” Borkovich said. “So if we’d recover a marijuana pipe but there’s no prosecution, there’s no dope in it, we’d seize it and that became a drug crime. Well, it really wasn’t, so how we collected crime statistics changed, that’s all. There’s no noticeable decrease in drug activity.”
Ferris applied speech communications and industrial chemistry technology senior Andrew Gilbert said that DPS is usually fair in handling drug arrests.
“A marijuana charge for a student can screw up their education. Now, on campus, public safety is fairly understanding of the value of education and doesn’t wish to jeopardize that for anybody,” Gilbert said. “Generally, if it’s just a little personal possession, you’ll get referred to the Office of Student Conduct, you know, some student probation. No police, no crime, no nothing.”
Gilbert is an open advocate for legalization of marijuana and drug use on campus. He openly admits that he has used on-campus and been arrested off-campus “more times for marijuana than most kids at this college are old.”
Gilbert also said that marijuana use on campus is common and that if students are just using personal amounts on campus, they’ll be fine.
“If you want the how to get away with it on campus end of things—catch up kids, it’s 2018. We got vaporizers, go electronic,” Gilbert said. “Vaporization leaves little smell and it doesn’t look like weed. If you’re still puffing flower or doing dabs in the dorm, you’re dumb.”
According to Borkovich, there are usually more violations in the fall with incoming freshmen because they don’t understand the consequences, which depend on the circumstances. If a student is caught with several ounces or a pound of marijuana, possession of that amount is a felony and they could be suspended or expelled from one incident.
“The law is wrong; the law is absolutely wrong in this situation. But the law is still the law and that’s something that most people experimenting miss out on,” Gilbert said.
Other students across the state share Gilbert’s views about legalization of marijuana. On April 1, 2017, the 46th annual Hash Bash was held on the University of Michigan’s campus. Police estimated that there were 10,000 people in attendance, lobbying to put the legalization of marijuana on the statewide ballot in 2018. Many activists there even lit up joints, filling the area with smoke, according to mlive.com.
Borkovich opposes the legalization of marijuana because he as seen the impact it has and the damage it causes after being on the drug team for six years.
“Marijuana doesn’t make you a better mom, a better dad, a better student, a better worker, a better citizen. It is a mind-altering substance that doesn’t enhance people, it doesn’t make people better. It doesn’t make them more responsible or take more responsibility for themselves. It’s pretty hard for me, as a member of society, to say ‘let’s legalize this’ when we know it has a lot of negative impacts on people,” Borkovich said.
Even though Gilbert advocates for the legalization of marijuana, he said he will be the first to tell you there are negatives associated with marijuana, such as being too high to be useful or care about being useful.
“When I first came here, the idea of showing up anywhere not high was kind of absurd to me,” Gilbert said. “That’s changed, you know, six years in college and there’s a lot you have to have your head together for.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The names of the students in this article have been changed to protect the Torch’s sources.
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