UT votes down marijuana arrest policy change

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by KRIS BETTS / KVUE News and photojournalist DEREK RASOR

Bio | Email | Follow: @KrisB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 10:20 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 26 at 10:44 PM

UPDATE -- Authors of a bill to change marijuana enforcement on UT's campus were hoping to pass legislation that would be the first of it's kind in the country. However, after a vote of 9 to 13 Tuesday night, the bill was shot down.


AUSTIN -- An effort to change the University of Texas’ marijuana policy is getting some traction.

The UT Student Government is proposing a bill that would be the first of its kind on any campus in the country: it would stop university police from arresting anyone for possession, instead giving them a citation.

According to UT graduate student Robert Love, smoking and second-hand smoke are much bigger problems than marijuana on campus.

“Marijuana is not a threat to safety on campus, so let's take resources away from marijuana and put it toward things that are dangerous to students,” he said.

So Love, a member of the university's Student Government, is one of 12 authors of a bill that would ask UT police to issue citations for all marijuana possessions under four ounces instead of making arrests.

“I want to make sure that they have the availability to spend those resources investigating violent crime, rather than forcing them to investigate marijuana crimes on campus,” said Love.

Currently, Travis County law allows officers to make an arrest or issue a citation at their discretion. Love says that could encourage racial profiling.

"Citations should be the standard, and that way blacks, white, and Latinos get the same treatment under the law," he said.

If UT passes this bill, it would be the first university not in a medical marijuana state to enforce citations over arrests for possession. However, UT Police Chief Robert Dahlstrom tells KVUE student government cannot change the law.

“They're very welcome to go down to State Legislature and try for a state law change, and then that's what we’ll enforce. But as peace officers of the state of Texas, we will follow the law,” said Dahlstrom.

The Student Government at the University of Texas will decide Tuesday at 7 p.m. whether or not to change marijuana policy on campus. The vote will happen in the Student Activities Building on second floor.

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