NIU community reacts to marijuana bill

By Julia Boyle

An Illinois bill would allow some people to obtain a medical marijuana card if it is approved by the Illinois Senate and governor.

It will allow the purchase and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in a two-week period.

J. Mitch Pickerill, a political science associate professor who co-authored Medical Marijuana Policy and the Virtues of Federalism in 2007, said he thinks the political views on cannabis have changed.

“It’s a tough political situation, especially for Democrats,” Pickerill said. “Political winds are not as anti-drug as they once were.”

Pickerill said medicinal marijuana could be legal in Illinois, but it will come with limitations. Pickerill said increased recreational marijuana usage is a possible implication with the bill’s approval.

“When you have a greater amount of marijuana cultivated there are more opportunities to get it out there in uses other than medical reasons,” Pickerill said.

The Illinois House of Representatives approved the medicinal marijuana bill on April 17.

Jennifer Murphy, freshman accounting major and student conduct board member, said drug use within the residence halls has repercussions.

“If you are caught with marijuana in the dorms, there are a series of disciplinary actions by housing and dining, such as a year probation,” Murphy said.

NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith said the police department works closely with housing and dining when dealing with cannabis. Smith said there are three options the police use when interacting with those accused.

“The first two are a verbal warning or referral to the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct,” Smith said. “Housing and dining staff can also utilize these two options.”

The third option leads to the police officer arresting the offender.

“All of our officers are licensed through the State of Illinois with full arrest powers,” Smith said. “That enables us to arrest people when needed. We use these three options depending on the individual situation.”

The bill approval may require a change in medicinal marijuana standards for the university.

“It’s hard to know what the implications will be.” Pickerell said. “But, states like Washington and Colorado have served as political laboratories.”

Freshman accounting major Eryn Sweezy said she is skeptical the legalization of medicinal marijuana will greatly impact recreational usage.

“Because it’s illegal right now people make a much bigger deal about it,” Sweezy said.

The medicinal marijuana bill is awaiting the Illinois Senate vote. If Illinois passes the bill, it will be the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana.