As the drug capital of Southern California, Riverside is home to the most vibrant and lethargic stoner community south of Humboldt. But since the University of California system went tobacco-free in 2014, potheads are finding it harder and harder to get away with smoking weed on campus. With the inability to light up, many students have taken to the underwater dorm halls and social media spheres in an attempt to restore our right to toke.
Of UCR’s 420 student groups, many, including the Rastafarian Student Union; the Roots, Rock, Reggae Club; and UCR Botany Enthusiasts, have united in an effort to petition UCR’s administration to designate the floating Bell Tower lawn as a marijuana-smoking area. Even religious groups like Bong Rips for Jesus have thrown their support behind the expansion of UCR’s marijuana acceptance policies. #UniversityofCannabis is trending on Yik Yak and Twitter. The last Wednesday of winter quarter saw a peaceful demonstration in the Pierce canal, where over 1,000 UCR students floated cross-legged on innertubes in a circle and passed an unlit joint around as a sign of solidarity. Many demonstrators wore T-shirts and held banners that read “One joint, one hit, one UC.”
The movement has actually gained great support from UCR’s faculty. The prevalence of marijuana usage during finals week has led to an increase in the average GPA of CHASS and SoBA students, and thus, UCR professors are endorsing its usage as a study aid. Some are even secretly offering their office hours as study-and-smoke-sessions. UCPD recently released a statement commending the decreased level of alcohol-related infractions and incarcerations at UCR, which references the increased use of weed as the reason behind it. Even the health department has come out in support of expanding our pot policy, citing the decreased use of addictive prescription drugs like Xanax and Adderall in the student body.
The administration has been “pretty chill” about our student body’s marijuana movement, but still does not allow the sale of cannabis products on campus, and only two marijuana-smoking areas have been designated as of now, one outside of Lothian Residence Hall, colloquially referred to as Narnia, and another in the orange grove greenhouse boats behind the humanities building. With increased boat traffic in between the residence halls, the issue that many pot enthusiasts are taking with these areas is their distance from restaurants and vending machines. This is expected, considering how badly stoners want food, and how unwilling they are to move.
To be more accommodating to our diverse, dope-smoking student body, UCR should consider allowing residence halls to serve cannabis-infused brownies, and hold quarterly marijuana-smoking cooperation seminars, titled Puff-Puff-Pass Sessions. Similarly, our stony school administration should consider growing cannabis plants in the Botanical Gardens, and allow our medical school to study the medicinal qualities and health implications of cannabis.
Should such changes to our drug policy happen, UC Riverside would become a leader in the national marijuana movement, and could be the domino that causes the UC system to go green. But we’ll need to make it happen fast. In 2016, when legal weed will likely be on the ballot in California, UC should expect to see its energized and vaporized student population stand up (or sit down) for their rights, no longer in fear of their toking privileges being revoked.
With luck, and a copious amount of bong rips and Bob Marley, we will see Spring Splash 2015 turn into Woodstock 1969. Although the UC system is tobacco-free, we should endorse and accommodate the healthier, happier smoking alternative. After all, we are the Highlanders.