The Emerald Initiative

A group of Mizzou students marches to Chancellor Brady Deaton's office in Jesse Hall

Much thanks to everyone who came out for today’s rally. We gathered at speaker’s circle for SAFER‘s day of action. We brought attention to the fact that marijuana is a far safer substance than alcohol, yet public and university policies place much higher punishments on marijuana use. These policies are sending students the message that drinking is a much more accepted behavior than smoking marijuana.

The purpose of our rally was to deliver to Chancellor Brady Deaton a copy of the Emerald Initiative, SAFER’s answer to the previous Amethyst initiative that was drafted by Choose Responsibility and signed by numerous university presidents across the country. The Amethyst initiative called for an open debate on the potential benefits of lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18. In the same spirit, SAFER’s Emerald Initiative calls for an open debate on our marijuana policies, calling on universities to allow students to use a safer recreational drug without fear of arrest or losing housing or financial aid. The text of the Emerald Initiative is as follows:

“It’s time to address the culture of alcohol on campus

Student alcohol use at our nation’s colleges and universities has reached epidemic levels.

The consensus among researchers, educators and policymakers is that a “culture of alcohol” on and around college campuses is largely responsible for the popularity, frequency, and degree of student drinking.

Yet efforts to change this “culture of alcohol” – which rely heavily on encouraging students to “drink responsibly” – have largely failed to address it and in some cases continue to fuel it.

College students are being driven to drink

It is time to explore the benefits of encouraging students to “party responsibly” rather than “drink responsibly.”

Alcohol and marijuana are by far the two most popular recreational substances available to college students.

Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it is far less harmful than alcohol both to the user and to society yet students face more severe legal and university penalties for marijuana use than they do for alcohol use.

Such laws and policies are driving students to drink instead of making the rational, safer choice to use marijuana. In doing so, they are fueling the dangerous “culture of alcohol” on our nation’s college and university campuses.

How many more alcohol-related incidents must occur before we consider a new approach?

We call upon our elected officials and fellow university leaders:

To support an informed and dispassionate public debate on whether it would be more effective to provide students with an alternative to alcohol instead of simply encouraging them to use less when they drink.

To consider whether current laws and university policies, which punish individuals more for using marijuana than for using alcohol, steer students toward drinking and away from using a less harmful substance instead.

To invite new ideas about the best ways to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol and marijuana.

We pledge ourselves and our institutions to playing a vigorous, constructive role as these critical discussions unfold.”

Hopefully our man Deaton comes through for us and signs the initiative, but regardless, there were a few press members there and our message definitely got out. Check out this story in the Columbia Missourian for some pictures and more info. This is what it’s all about; joining together and telling key decision makers how we feel about drug policy reform. Solidarity, my brothers and sisters!


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