Editorial: Students for Sensible Drug Policy were within their rights
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2013 00:10
The UConn chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy wanted to raise money for eight of their organization’s members to attend the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver, Colo. later this month. Last week, they held a bake sale featuring hemp products in front of Homer Babbidge Library – or as they slyly called it in their promotion materials, a “baked sale.” As required, the group asked permission for a permit from the Event Services Office.
While hemp does contain THC, the chemical producing a high when consuming marijuana, hemp can legally contain no more than .03 percent THC. At such low doses, the effect is not great enough to produce a high, intoxication, or hallucinogenic properties. According to a report earlier this year by the Congressional Research Service, approximately one percent THC is needed to have a “psychotropic effect or an intoxicating potential” – or more than 30 times the amount legally allowed in hemp.
The associate director of event services got in touch with the university’s Police Department to clarify questions she had regarding the event’s legality. Under Connecticut’s driving under the influence laws, having any THC whatsoever in your system puts you in violation. A UConn police sergeant wrote in an email that “Under Connecticut driving under the influence laws, a person found to have ANY amount of THC would be in violation… I am sure you can see the liability if an accident occurred and it was determined that the operator had THC in their system obtained at a university sanctioned event.” According to the Hartford Advocate, after this email was sent, Event Services reversed their grudging approval of the bake sale, preventing any hemp products from being used.
While we understand the UConn Police and Event Services’ concern, that is still no reason to inhibit an undeniably legal event. Under UConn’s rationale, seemingly any legal event could be stopped because it might lead to illegal activity later. They would probably have been within their rights to require SSDP to put up a sign or information alongside the sale informing purchasers that driving a vehicle with any level of THC in their system would be illegal. Yet that is a far cry from what they actually did, which was attempting to prevent any legal hemp products from being sold at all.
SSDP decided to deliberately break UConn’s edict and sell hemp items, but as it happened the sale ended up being accidentally hemp-free. The group’s vice president explained, “We went to the six closest grocery stores and none of them sold any hemp products.” Sometimes these conflicts simply resolve themselves on their own.