Mar 312005
Authors: Megan Schulz, Lila Hickey

Supporters of SAFER Choice gathered on the Lory Student Center Plaza Thursday morning to celebrate the addition of a marijuana referendum to the Associated Students of CSU ballot for the upcoming April 4 through April 6 elections.

"This is a very symbolic measure," said Mason Tvert, SAFER Choice executive director. "Ethically, the school has a vested health interest in its students and should be doing everything it can to make sure they are safe."

SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation) Choice, a nonprofit organization funded by a private donor, has been trying to extend the values that marijuana use should have parallel punishments to alcohol use on campus. It has also pushed the values and initiatives to the University of Colorado-Boulder.

The success of getting the referendum on the ballot does not constitute enforcement of the policies. The students were able to make an audible statement that will debut on the ballots Monday. If it succeeds at the polls it will then be passed to the university's administration for consideration.

Some T-shirts that said "Party Organically" were given away at the rally.

"There is no doubt in anyone's mind that alcohol is a more acceptable form of recreation on campus," Tvert said. "They should not consider marijuana more severe than alcohol just because it is illegal."

An anonymous individual informally requested that the signatures collected for the referendum be verified, so ASCSU Elections Committee members began verifying the signatures. The committee would have exceeded the ballot referendum deadline to verify all 2,421 signatures on the petition one by one. Because of this deadline, the individual decided not to formally contest the signatures, and the verification process was stopped.

The Referendum for Marijuana Policy Reform at CSU will be on the ASCSU ballot, which will be available Monday through Wednesday for students to vote on RAMWeb.

"Monday is the first day of registration," said Redavid, a junior liberal arts major. "We're hoping students who visit RAMWeb to register will take time out to vote."

At least 10 percent of the CSU student body has to vote in the election in order for it to be valid. Last year, a record-setting 24 percent of the student body voted, said Nic Redavid, assistant director of public relations and deputy elections manager at ASCSU.

When asked if she thinks the referendum will pass, SAFER Choice student campaign manager Zana Buttermore-Baca had a positive outlook.

"We just need a majority of the vote," said Buttermore-Baca, a freshman sports medicine major. "I think even students who don't smoke (marijuana) will vote for us."

Buttermore-Baca said she joined SAFER Choice because she thinks it is a good cause and wanted to volunteer for something in which she believed.

ASCSU elections will begin Monday at 8 a.m.

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