Changes to the University of Connecticut’s cannabis enforcement policies are much needed, and the Undergraduate Student Government’s most recent legislation seems to do just that.
Although the policy has not yet been enacted, it hopes to limit UCPD’s interaction with students suspected of using cannabis in residential halls. They would no longer be called to enter student residences where the danger of imminent harm is not present, says the bill. The legislation would not just be a good way for students to avoid encountering UCPD altogether, but would also put the police department’s responsibilities elsewhere.
Students already have concerns with the university’s poor mental health services and response to sexual assault cases; these are the issues the community should be trying to resolve. It is a waste of time for both the Residential Assistants responsible for reporting possible illegal drug possession, as well as UCPD — who have been accused of racial profiling — to address a minor community concern which, most of the time, they don’t even care about.
Not everything requires the police. The presence of cops doesn’t even make some UConn students feel safe. Given the national outrage over policing in recent years, the policy offers a bright alternative so as to settle these worries. However, formalizing it all into a lengthy process seems very unnecessary. What dangers does harmless drug use bring to on-campus public safety? None. UCPD’s priority should be to keep people safe, not make them feel intimidated for possessing a drug whose recreational use has been decriminalized in Connecticut since 2011. Debating over the need to pass this legislation is absurd — it is legislation that should be passed as soon as possible. The legislation in no way legalizes marijuana on campus, but it addresses the very real dangers of calling cops on students for a misdemeanor.
According to the legislation, UCPD’s resources currently allocated to drug enforcement can be dedicated to programs in other departments, including existing recovery services. By passing this policy, USG will be promoting a safer environment for people who find on-campus law enforcement a discouragement to student well-being.