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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

ASNMU should not advocate for marijuana

These past few weeks Associated Students of NMU (ASNMU)  has been asking Northern students for their opinion on whether or not the issue of decriminalizing marijuana in the city of Marquette is something that the organization should pursue.

As a group created to further students’ well-being and interests on campus, it is not the place of ASNMU to go further with any sort of drive to decriminalize marijuana. By considering organizing a ballot initiative, ASNMU is overstepping its bounds and jumping into changing city code for Marquette. The common defense to this type of point is that ASNMU is carrying out the wishes of the student body and that decriminalization would affect students. This is absolutely true; the decriminalization of marijuana would indeed affect the students of NMU, but not in any educational or on-campus capacity.

The  plan calls for Marquette to have a system pertaining to marijuana such as Ann Arbor has, where possession of marijuana would be a civil infraction fine of roughly $25 and be in a similar category  as receiving a speeding ticket. This is all fine and dandy, but it still does not affect the campus in any way, shape, form or matter.

The University of Michigan still follows the pre-existing guidelines regarding the possession of marijuana. On U of M’s campus, it is unlawful to possess, use, manufacture or distribute illicit drugs. If a student is caught doing so, then that student can be punished under all laws applicable to the situation.  This is potentially the situation that would happen here at Northern.

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Even though the university grounds fall within the city limits of Marquette, the university does not automatically have to follow the decriminalization change because it is still able to set university-wide drug policies and enforce them according to federal or state law through its own deputized public safety system. If ASNMU wants to go ahead and try to change policies regarding marijuana, it would make more sense for a campus organization to attempt to change campus marijuana policy rather than Marquette city code.

ASNMU contributes extensively to the student body through activities such as lobbying extensively for higher education funding, keeping the Dozing Discounts plan up and running, starting the bike share program and keeping on top of issues that are directly related to the university. But by pursuing a Marquette city ballot initiative, ASNMU is straying from its focus of helping students with academic pursuits and campus-related activities and is taking a step in the direction of becoming just another organization with a social agenda.

Should marijuana be decriminalized? Perhaps. If a group of students wishes to organize with surrounding community members and assemble a ballot initiative without the ASNMU label on the group, then I would have no qualms with it. The issue here is the line between being a Northern student and being a resident of Marquette has become blurred in the eyes of ASNMU staff. Let’s un-blur the line a little bit and make students and their elected leaders realize they need to differentiate between issues that affect us as students and those issues that are simply part of our personal lives.

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