In a joint decision made by President Wrestler and the Rochester Department of Pot Enthusiasts (DOPE), RIT will become the first college campus to not only decriminalize, but legalize, the use of recreational marijuana, effective campus-wide on 4/20.
Gazing out the window of his seventh-floor office with his back to the door, Wrestler greeted the Distorter staff to discuss the implications of the new rule. With a cloud of blue smoke haloing his ivory head of hair, and the red, green and yellow sleeves of a drug rug positioned on the armrests, we were welcomed into the office of the university president. After several minutes of silence as Distorter staff members embraced their contact high, the president swiveled around in his chair, beaming brightly as he stubbed out a blunt on a tiger-shaped ashtray and addressed the staff in his newly adopted Rastafarian dialect. “Good mornin', me frien’s!”
Wrestler was instrumental in bringing the changes to the university.
Evident from his behaviors — despite the new policy not being in effect yet — Wrestler was instrumental in bringing the changes to the university.
“I believe students have been unjustly punished for tryin’ to enjoy themselves when dey receive warnings an’ probation an’ suspension for being caught wid da reefer," he said. "Dey work so hard in class, out of class and at dere jobs, an’ are lookin’ for a way to relax — marijuana has long been known for de relaxation properties it possesses, jah? Dis campus needed change.”
Lighting up the issue of marijuana use on campus was the passage of legislation in Colorado and Washington that legalized marijuana in late 2012. The decision immediately resulted in marijuana charges being brought against a record breaking 420 students in one week. Approximately 90 percent of those students hailed from the two THC-friendly states and, according to Public Safety reports, had lost enough brain cells due to heavy hash habits that “they forgot they were not in their home states.” As punishment, all 420 students were required to volunteer at a bake sale for the local chapter of DARE, and may or may not have been responsible for cannabis-laced brownies that were sold to the public.
Shortly after this incident, several RIT students banded together with the common desire to relax campus policies regarding marijuana use. Leading the charge was Mary Jane Cushman, a third year student in the Homeopathy/Alternative Medicine Practices program who now owns and operates her own medical marijuana dispensary.
"College students are simply looking for a way to de-stress."
“College students are simply looking for a way to de-stress, which is why so many enjoy smoking weed," Cushman said. "I am, and always have been, a firm believer in natural remedies, and when I brought up the issue with campus officials, it was because it was time for them to start believing in natural remedies, too. This establishment, after all, is the reason they need to de-stress in the first place.”
Cushman reached out to DOPE to act as an outside advocate for RIT students during negotiations with campus officials. Dank Sinatra, president of DOPE, had worked with several businesses and organizations throughout the region on similar policies prior to being contacted by Cushman. “My buds and I were confident he could help bring similar changes to the university,” Cushman said.
And indeed, he did. Wrestler promptly jumped on board upon his first meeting with Sinatra and his assistant, Hillary Puff, in early 2013. Today, he explains, “Ahh, I was secre’ly hopin’ students woul’ bring up de issue for de longes’ time ... I been smokin’ in dis office for de las’ 10 years while dey out dere gettin’ punished. Me time here is comin’ to a close and when I roll up — I mean out, roll out — dis summer, I want to leaf a legacy.” For the next several years, the president, DOPE, Public Safety and the August Health Center worked together on the nuances of the policy, which were recently finalized and will be enacted shortly.
The new policy allows for the recreational use of marijuana for all students, faculty and staff, with the only restriction being that smoking is only allowed outside. This means that students who used to smoke inconspicuously* in the woods behind Grace Watson Hall or at the gazebo behind the tennis courts can now blaze their way through the Infinity Quad or down the Quarter Mile with no fear of repercussions. Additionally, the Gosnell Greenhouse is now accepting bids on spaces to grow your own pot and Saunders College of Business will soon be establishing a program to govern the buying and selling of marijuana on campus.
The university will be taking cuts from the buying and selling program and all the proceeds from the greenhouse bids, which will “gradually lower tuition over de next few years after de policy is implemen’ed,” Wrestler promised.
“This goes above and beyond what I was hoping to accomplish, but it’s amazing, helping make this happen is definitely a high point for me,” Cushman gushed.
However, not everyone is pleased with the new policy. Immediately after the decision was announced, there was an exodus of students with “XXX” tattoos and stretched earlobes; the Society of Straight Edge Students (SSS) gathered to protest outside the SAU with signs reading “It’s the devil’s lettuce” and throwback posters from the 1936 film “Reefer Madness.” A representative from SSS stood on a bench and addressed the small crowd that had gathered. “Pot is a gateway drug. To put it bluntly ... if you smoke weed, you kill brain cells. When you kill enough brain cells, you die. Therefore, if you smoke weed, you will die.”
"... therefore, if you smoke weed, you will die.”
Regardless of whether you stand with the new policy or not, there will be widespread changes to campus culture once it is in effect. Wrestler hopes that relaxing the rules will allow students to continue their education uninterrupted by the punishments for marijuana charges, a wholesome ideology that may convince college communities across the nation to adopt similar policies.
*Disclaimer: You were never actually inconspicuous; when it’s pitch black in the woods except for the glow of your lighter, it’s pretty easy to tell what you’re doing.