InFocus: Can cannabis rules change?

By Perspective Staff

Ian Tancun | Columnist

I do not think NIU’s marijuana policy should mirror DeKalb’s, but NIU and DeKalb’s marijuana policies should mirror Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington’s. Those are the four states in the U.S. where it is legal to purchase marijuana for medical or recreational use.

In a recent speech to law enforcement officials in Virginia, Attorney General Jeff Sessions likened marijuana usage to heroin in terms of the damage that dependency can cause, according to the transcripts of his March 15 speech in Richmond, Virginia. Sessions said marijuana usage is “only slightly less awful” than heroin, according to his speech. The absurdity of the statement aside — marijuana use has never caused a single death in the U.S., according to the Drug Fact Sheet on the DEA’s website — Sessions’ stance is at odds with what John Kelly,Department of Homeland Security Secretary said during an April 16 interview with NBC’s Meet the Press.

“Marijuana is not a factor in the drug war,” said Kelly during the interview. Not only do I agree with Kelly, but I think there’s an even bigger issue that both politicians are overlooking: the tax benefits of legalizing marijuana.

In 2016, Colorado raked in almost $200 million in tax revenue from the sale of marijuana. That money has gone toward various programs in Colorado including public schools, public safety and law enforcement, according to an April 6 article on the Coloradoan’s website.

Not only should NIU and DeKalb do away with imposing any fines for the possession of marijuana, but Illinois lawmakers should work on legalizing the sale of marijuana in Illinois. For a state thats ongoing financial woes are quite embarrassing, the tax benefits of legalizing it here could help reshape the fiscal stability of our state going forward. To not consider legalizing it here, simply for the various public programs that would benefit from the added revenue, seems like a foolish move on the part of Illinois politicians.

Faith Mellenthin | Columnist

I think NIU should alter the way it handles the Student Code of Conduct in occurrences of possession and usage of marijuana. The university has currently not changed the way it handles this violation which includes a student conduct fine, probation for one year and an administrative hearing, according to an April 3 Northern Star news article.

While I think it is important for NIU to uphold regulations that can keep students in line, it seems unfair that a Student Conduct sanction will be given to students in regard to any use or possession of marijuana. Sanctions can become part of a student’s transcript and will affect the student’s career long-term. Similarly, probation for one year restricts a student from certain campus activities and employment. I do not find this fair either, seeing as marijuana is not considered a serious offense anymore.

Growing fines and an administrative hearing should be enough to keep students in line. DeKalb is not recognizing the use/possession of weed as a criminalizing violation anymore, and so neither should NIU. There are more pressing safety concerns on our campus.

Mackenzie Meadows | Columnist

DeKalb’s policy regarding cannabis should be equivalent to NIU’s policy, but it seems NIU cares more about pointless issues.

The use of cannabis has become more socially acceptable, regarding the fact that marijuana is medically legal in 28 states, according to, and is starting to become recreationally legal in many other states. In July, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2228, which amended the Cannabis Control Act, making “possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis … a civil law violation punishable by a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum fine of $200.”

Before the passing of the bill, if a person had 10 grams of marijuana in their possession it was considered a class B misdemeanor. The offender could face up to 180 days in jail as well as a hefty $1,500 fine, according to an April 13 Northern Star article.

For NIU, the use or possession of cannabis is strictly not allowed. A person charged having cannabis on them or smoking it will receive sanctions outlined in the NIU Student Code of Conduct for an offense of drugs which ranges from a $125 fine to expulsion or loss of all activity and class registration, according to the NIU code of conduct.

NIU should adapt its policy to better coincide with Dekalb’s policy, so rules do not get lost in translation and everyone knows the same rules. Another key reason why the cannabis policies should mirror each other are for the health benefits it offers — that 28 states find true, but DeKalb overlooks. Cannabis offers many health benefits and many states are adapting to these benefits.

There are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that researchers think have medicinal applications. Those are cannabidiol — which impacts the brain without a high — and tetrahydrocannabinol — which has pain-relieving properties, according to

NIU should stop focusing on a student carrying weed or smoking it with a group a friends and start focusing on actual crime that is going on within its community. It’s time to figure out priorities and focus on more important issues.

Maddie Steen | Columnist

NIU should reconsider its policy on marijuana. Students do not deserve to have a more severe punishment than their surrounding community. If NIU were to reflect the DeKalb County cannabis possession policies, students may not only be more trusting but they may also feel as though true steps toward national acceptance and legalization are being put into place.

The sanctions listed under the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act are considerably harsher than the punishments that people receive from DeKalb. The ordinance that DeKalb recently approved states that instead of receiving criminal violations for 2.5 grams or more, it is now considered only a civil violation if 10 grams or less is possessed.

While students do not receive criminal or civil law citations, they do get reprimanded by the university in multiple ways. The more a student is caught, the worse the punishments get on campus. Students will receive a fine, academic probation for one year, parental notification, a substance abuse assessment and a referral to the Student Academic Success office.

DeKalb now only issues civil violations with a $200 fine, according to the DeKalb County Possession of Cannabis and Drug Paraphernalia Act. This does not damage the offenders reputation as much as it previously did, and the violations can be expunged two years after issuance. When it comes to students, absolutely no cannabis can be possessed, not even the old 2.5 minimum DeKalb County once held.

28 states have legalized medical marijauna use and eight states have legalized it for recreational use. This is a national movement in the works. DeKalb has taken a small step in the right direction, but NIU is not budging.

While I totally stand for legalization and NIU working toward matching Illinois and DeKalb laws, NIU must consider the federal laws in place since the university does receive federal financial aid and grants. Because of this, NIU is required to prohibit the use and possession of federally controlled substances.