Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Editorial: Nearby dispensary opening offers opportunities for responsible consumption


At issue: students’ cannabis use

Our take: cannabis can benefit students of age


The closest dispensary for medical and recreational cannabis will open this Saturday in Brookline. A 20-minute drive from the Emerson campus and located off of the E green line Riverway stop, the dispensary will have cannabis available for purchase for individuals 21 and over with a government-issued identification.

We hope the presence of a relatively close by and legal dispensary will aid the needs of students who are of age. A Beacon article in March 2018 cited Emerson Polling Society statistics that young or college educated individuals heavily support legalization.

Research shows that cannabis can help individuals relax, ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Forty million people cited anxiety as the top-presented concern for college students, according to a graphic on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website. Cannabis has been proven to lessen the effects of chronic pain as well.

We support the safe and responsible consumption of cannabis by students over the age of 21 who choose to take advantage of the shop once it opens. But under the same avenue of thought, we hope students will continue to respect the campus policy that mandates they cannot possess or consume cannabis on campus.

Students cannot consume cannabis on campus because the college is federally funded, according to a Beacon Breakdown from November 2018. Federal law prohibits cannabis use on government and public property, like the Boston Common. If the college changes their cannabis consumption policies, they risk losing federal funding. But students over 21 and living off-campus can safely use it in their homes.

The Beacon supports the dispensary and its use because of the immense benefits it provides to the city. Last August, the U.S. News and World Report wrote that the Massachusetts state legislature expects $63 million in annual tax revenue from cannabis sales. Though the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation deemed this figure unrealistic, it’s undeniable legal sales are profitable. Colorado, the first state to legalize cannabis, saw millions of dollars flood into its economy since the law was passed in 2013.

Legalization in Massachusetts also helps lessen the illegal avenues through which customers previously bought their cannabis. And the hope remains that legalization lessens the incarceration of sellers, who are often people of color.

According to the Marijuana Business Daily, 81 percent of cannabis industry owners and founders are white. According to an NPR article, people of color are more reluctant to open legal marijuana businesses out of fear of being targeted more often for drug-related crimes than white people. The racial profiling and lack of resources surrounding cannabis prevents people of color from growing and selling, even if they have more knowledge of growing and selling cannabis, from entering the industry. To alleviate this inequality, Massachusetts introduced equity programs to include more people from minority communities in the business.

Another concern arises from how the opening of nearby shops may affect the presence of cannabis on campus. But according to a Beacon article published this week, Associate Director of the Center for Health and Wellness Laura Owen said the opening of the new dispensary likely would not cause an increase of cannabis use on campus given the age restriction on purchasing recreational marijuana. As for dealing with those who choose to use on campus, the college will handle those cases similarly to how they investigate cases of alcohol use.

We’re glad to see the opening of a recreational marijuana dispensary in the greater Boston area, and also the administration’s understanding of responsible student usage. But just like with alcohol, if you’re going to use it, don’t abuse it.

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