Organization seeks to change WKU drug policy

Jackson French

Since its inception in August of last school year, WKU’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy has been seeking to change WKU’s approach to drugs. 

Leitchfield junior Kelly Cannon, president of  WKU’s chapter of SSDP, said many of WKU’s drug policies need to be revised.

She said SSDP advocates putting drugs “in the hands of regulatory government agencies who can dispense the drugs to make sure that drugs on the streets are what they say they are. So there’s not such a black market economy for illegal drugs.”

According to SSPD’s website, the organization is dedicated to ending the War on Drugs. 

Cannon also said the War on Drugs has resulted in a vastly increased prison population.  

“It doesn’t make sense to have such a huge incarcerated population for nonviolent offenses when it’s so expensive to our nation and when it doesn’t reduce the availability and it doesn’t increase the safety of illicit substances,” she said.

 She said WKU’s chapter of SSDP hopes to change campus drug policy. 

“We change policy with the awareness that students on college campuses have access to drugs and that they’re likely going to try them so we agitate for policies that make students safe,” Cannon said. 

One change Cannon said she hopes to see soon is the implementation of a medical amnesty policy.

“It (a medical amnesty policy) just says that if a student is having some kind of a medical emergency due to drugs… that the student will receive medical treatment and maybe counseling or something like that but they won’t be prosecuted,” she said.

The point of a medical amnesty policy, Cannon said, is to prevent students from being afraid of prosecution for drug offenses.

“It’s about student safety and it’s about non-punitive policy,” she said.

She said the medical amnesty policy might be in practice “to some degree” but it is not explicitly written in the disciplinary handbook.

Cannon said WKU’s branch of SSDP is also seeking to change a part of the student handbook recommending any on-campus student caught with drugs be discharged from student housing. 

“If a student has a drug problem or if a student doesn’t have a drug problem and they have a small amount of some kind of drug, it doesn’t make sense to disenfranchise the student by kicking them out of on-campus housing,” she said.

She said students living on campus might have a better support system to keep them out of harder drugs if they can stay on campus.

Captain Dominic Ossello of the WKU Police Department, said drug abuse has not been an especially prevalent problem on campus this year.

He said WKUPD occasionally arrests someone for marijuana but has not seen a significant change in statistics recently.

“I don’t know exactly what’s popular,” Ossello said. “I just know we have the marijuana incidents that are regular and common but as far as any other drugs, I don’t think we’ve seen any kick in the statistics.”