By Nate Kegel
Students at the University of Pittsburgh walking past the student union building this Wednesday saw the familiar array of booths advertising organizations and political groups on campus. Most eye catching among them was the campus’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty booth that was advertising the sale of “pot brownies.” What were actually prepackaged brownies being sold out of gardening pots were drawing in passerbys that were then provided with information about Young Americans for Liberty, given facts about the drug war, and handed copies of the United States Constitution. It was the second time this event was held on the Pittsburgh campus, however this year was special.
On May 17, 2016 Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana act went into effect. Cancer patients, epileptics and patients suffering from a multitude of other diseases would then be able to seek treatment within their home state. The proceeds from last year’s event were used to raise money for Antania Hopkins, an 11 year old girl who suffered from epilepsy but could not receive medical cannabis due to Pennsylvania law. The passage of the act will finally allow patients in similar situations to her to receive the treatment they need conveniently within their home state. At the time this was written it is unknown who the proceeds from the most recent sale will benefit but it will most likely go to another patient in need.
In recent years Pennsylvania has made significant progress in terms of legalization. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, pot arrests in the city of brotherly love declined by 82% between 2013 and 2015 following the implementation of decriminalization policies. As 2016 draws to a close and Pittsburgh nears its one-year anniversary of decriminalization, similar results are expected. Despite this progress, the number of marijuana arrests across the state of Pennsylvania as a whole were nearly double those of heroin and cocaine in late 2014. The war on drugs is still very much alive, but advocacy projects such as this do much to remind students and citizens alike that through their tax dollars they are continuing to finance a multi-trillion dollar prohibition. On a positive note, in the last decade the public perception of the war on drugs has undergone a massive shift in favor of legalization and only the lethargic movements of our bureaucratic system continue to prevent necessary reforms.Published in