Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass’ relationship with marijuana

“We’re hoping to expand our advocacy for sustainability in the cannabis market and expanding medical rights on campus.”
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian (2014)

The University of Massachusetts, like any other college, is no stranger to cannabis usage. However, despite  Massachusetts’ attempts to normalize marijuana use, UMass remains a smoke-free zone.

Smoking, whether it be tobacco or marijuana, is against school regulations unless it is used for cultural or religious purposes.

Though legal for recreational use in the state of Massachusetts, UMass’s policy states: “You may not use or possess marijuana, medical marijuana, or marijuana paraphernalia in any form anywhere on University of Massachusetts Amherst property.” This includes all forms of enjoying cannabis such as edibles, blunts, joints and vape pens.

Yet with rules and policies in place, UMass campus continues to have clubs advocating marijuana usage, such as the Psychedelic Club and the UMass Cannabis Education Coalition.

According to the group’s description on the Campus PULSE, “CEC is an organization that seeks to end prohibition and stigmatization of cannabis.”

Founded in 1981, the Cannabis Education Coalition supports safe marijuana usage and spreads awareness, facts and history about cannabis.

In attempts to make marijuana usage more acceptable and inclusive in the UMass community, the Cannabis Education Coalition often stands outside of the Student Union with posters, and engages with people to discuss the health and wellness factors of marijuana.

President of the Cannabis Education Coalition Liz Mawrey, a junior English major, said their goal is to educate people on cannabis policies and creating connections. “We’re hoping to expand medical rights on campus, because at this point you cannot legally consume medical marijuana on campus.”

To bring more attention to the cause and  spread awareness, the CEC holds an annual Extravaganja festival. Extravangaja took place this year at Franklin County Fairground in Greenfield. Food vendors, cannabis farmers, dispensers and performers all attended to share love and knowledge of marijuana.

Psychedelic advocate Franktinus Stuitje, 72, who emigrated from the Netherlands at five years old to Michigan before being drafted into the Vietnam War, spoke about his advocacy.

Though heavily involved in mushroom advocacy and use, Stuitje shared his passion for psychedelic use and legalization. “It’s in my best interest to talk to people about mushrooms and the multi-benefits about mushrooms,” he said. “Mushrooms are becoming less illegal.”

Stuitje went on to talk about how different psychedelics have different benefits for different reasons.

Marijuana can aid in psychical pain relief and can help as an aid for anxiety and depression. Mushrooms can aid in depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and according to Stuitje, “is the gateway to perception.”

For others at Extravaganja such as former State Representative Terry Franklin, who pushed marijuana legalization on the ballot and helped pass the law, still stands as an advocate for marijuana rights and legalization especially in the UMass community. Franklin used to be a part of the CEC back when it was the Cannabis Reform Coalition.

“It’s a great success, but it’s not as great as I hoped it would be. The legal market is so corrupt,” he said when asked about his participation in legalizing marijuana in the state of Massachusetts.

Mawrey aims to bring awareness to federally operated institutions that still criminalize marijuana use like federal prison and federally funded schools such as UMass. She stated her concern for people who cannot use their medical marijuana on campus despite having prescriptions for it.

“There’s defiantly still a stigma around cannabis use, and when you leave your bubble, you realize people are not nearly as accepting,” Mawrey said. “It’s important to reach those groups of people. Going from that [different] perspective will help reduce the stigma around it.”

Jada Vazquez is a student at Hampshire College and can be reached at [email protected].

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