The words of a 19-year-old man who would identify himself only as Dylan summed up the argument as he saw it. “We’re not hurting anybody,” he said.
Dylan was referring to the annual march in favor of marijuana legalization that takes place at the University of Colorado each April 20. Similar demonstrations took place elsewhere around the nation.
What counts as “hurting people”? Apparently not disrupting an institution of higher learning and keeping its faculty and students from the business of learning during the 4 o’clock hour on that day. Apparently also not the cost to the University of Colorado to clean up the mess the annual “protesters” leave. The school estimated this at $50,000.
But then, “distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving” are among the side effects of marijuana reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, so maybe Dylan can be excused.
What is the ACLU’s excuse?
When the university announced it was through putting up with the annual disruption that had nothing to do with its mission as a state university, the legal director for the ACLU’s Colorado chapter was quoted by Huffingtonpost.com as saying it was a “misguided effort to thwart students’ right of association and right to free expression.” He wasn’t sure whether the organization would attempt legal action.
Maybe the Constitution doesn’t spell out a right to learn at a university free from loud and unruly disruptions, but that would seem to be important, if common sense were a guide.
This is one of those rare instances where a public university decided to stand up to nuttiness masquerading as a serious exercise of rights. The university stuck to its word last Friday and closed campus to all but official visitors and actual students. Even student government supported that move.
That didn’t stop hundreds of people from going to a nearby field and lighting up joints in full view of police, who did nothing.
The school has a party reputation, which it wants to shake. More importantly, though, the marijuana movement is trying to get past its medically-uses-only restrictions in 16 states and into full legalization.
With any luck, voters will see this kind of silliness for what it is.
As university Chancellor Philip DiStefano said about the annual intrusion at the school: “If it is a protest, then every party on every college campus in America is a protest.”