Weed smoking increased at City College campus

Travis Pastori

People smoking weed on campus are more and more common to see as a drastic raise in the number of incidents has occurred since January in comparison to last year.

One of the offenders is Kevin, 19. He said he stopped last Wednesday in a nook next to the Communications Building to smoke a joint.

Suddenly an instructor who smelled it through a window barged outside and said he’s called Campus Security. Kevin quickly finishes the joint and narrowly escapes approaching officers by blending in with the rush to class.

He said he used to smoke marijuana at school more comfortably on the lawn but lately he’s had to be evasive to avoid more attention from officers.

“It’s happened many times like over on the cliff, but that’s where I like to smoke because of the scenery,” said Kevin, who didn’t want to have his last name in print. “I’m away from everyone, I’m in the middle of a field, but I still can’t smoke, it’s bullshit.”

Campus Security has made it their goal to curb pot smoking on school property. Recent reports show a dramatic rise in related incidents. Ten students have already been disciplined since January. That’s nearly double the offenses over the entire previous school year.

According to the reports, officers have been watching locations where students congregate to catch users in the act. Most of the incidents were on the West Campus Bluff, but there are numerous other spots including the East Campus Horticulture Garden, and all of the designated smoking areas.

Eric Fricke, head of campus security, said that officers have “intensified their efforts,” to catch offenders, which is why there have been more busts. Also, he said, more people are bringing it to school.

“We’ve responded because we’ve gotten a number of complaints from students and staff who see it going on,” he said. “Also from instructors who observe individuals who come into class under the influence.”

Professor Ann Wilkinson said that she would rather not have an “adversarial environment” during lessons, so normally she won’t be confrontational. However, she doesn’t like smelling it on her pupils because City College is a learning environment.

“I just feel like someone should use one’s brain while here,” she said.

19-year-old Liberal Arts Major, Nathan Carlson, agreed and said he’s against the use of marijuana at school because it disrupts the focus on education.

“I think if people bring pot it kind of goes against what you’re here to do and what school is all about,” he said.

Cecilia Kavis, 19, doesn’t smoke pot on campus but isn’t concerned if others do as long as it’s out of the way. She added that it’s more “intrusive” the way the officers “stalk” the smoking areas.

“They’re cutting down trees to keep a better eye on you,” she said.

Much of the controversy is fueled by the fact that many students legally use cannabis for medical reasons. They argue that bringing their medicine should be allowed.

Debbie Hernandez, 18, said she needs it to calm her hyperactivity.

“Smoking weed relaxes me enough to sit through class and actually want to sit there,” she said. “So I see it as something that just benefits me.”

Fricke said he understands that marijuana is used medicinally and he’s compassionate, but even with a doctor’s recommendation it’s still illegal to have on campus.

It’s a violation of Health and Safety Code 11362.79 for patients to use within 1000 ft. of a school, unless they are inside of a residence.

The law is the reason Professor Manou Eskandari said grass should be left at home.

“I’m a professor, so I have to object because of the law,” he said, “but personally, I’ve said it before, if it becomes legal I’d be smoking the first joint with my students on campus.”

During a bust, officers confiscate the evidence, which usually consists of glass pipes or jars containing small amounts of marijuana that are routinely destroyed, Fricke said.

First, offenders are warned or get a letter on their record for a year. The Second time is a warning, suspension, or even expulsion, said Dean Dr. Ben Partee, who oversees student discipline.

“It’s in their best interest to not get caught,” he said, “but it’s more in their best interest to not bring it at all.”

The controversy and confiscations will continue into the foreseeable future as long as the plant is illegal and students want to smoke it.

Eskandari said he hopes that someday this will not be an issue, but it is, and the law should be respected or people will keep getting into trouble.

“It’s against the law so they should get busted, but the thing is this: don’t we have other problems? Aren’t there people dying? Isn’t the world on fire, ” he said, “In the grand scheme of things this is what we’re worried about?”