To Whom It May Concern,
We believe it is in the best interest of the University of Victoria that the UVSS Hempology 101 Club be granted an exemption from the new smoking policy for the club’s traditional weekly 4:20 gatherings at Petch Fountains. The reasons the administration should consider granting the exemption and avoid the referendum can be summarized under the following headers:
Established in 1995, the UVSS H e m p o l ogy 101 Club has held Weds 4:20 meetings near the Petch Fountains since Sept 1998, until Campus Security politely asked us to move on Sept 7, 2011 due to the new smoking policy that does not allow smoking inside the ring road. This was an obvious recognition of the weekly meetings and security made it clear that the students had the right to gather to protest against the federal cannabis laws but under direction of the administration said it was more appropriate to do so by the SUB. We reluctantly agreed in the hope democracy, freedom and peace would prevail.
This weekly tradition includes a call to gather in a circle, 42 seconds of silence for the victims of the drug war, sharing of sacrament and a 420 cheer to end the event. These gatherings are sacred to many students and a small handful of cannabis advocates. During these special events students learn about the medical impacts of using cannabis, the wide number of uses of hemp, current legal decisions, political developments, and historical facts about the most important plant on earth. Students also participate in annual contests, a game-show, caroling and other activities. Each year during student elections candidates are invited to speak and encourage everyone to vote.
The UVSS Hempology 101 Club has been growing in popularity every year and has been the largest student club at the University of Victoria for several years running. Since the smoking policy allows for exemptions for traditional ceremonies, we believe the 4:20 gatherings of the UVSS Hempology 101 Club should be granted this provision.
The new smoking police is clearly written for tobacco users in reaction to scientific evidence that the second-hand effects of tobacco smoke can cause serious lung damage. No such evidence exists for the second-hand effects of cannabis. The potential negative impacts of smoking cannabis are often greatly exaggerated, while the benefits often underestimated.
Studies even show that due to marijuana’s ability to clear the lungs of smog, pollutants, and cigarette smoke, it may actually reduce your risk of emphysema, bronchitis, and lung cancer. Smokers of cannabis have been shown to outlive non-smokers in some areas by up to two years. Medium to heavy tobacco smokers will live seven to ten years longer if they also smoke marijuana. <http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/ cannabis_health2.shtml>
Forcing cannabis consumers to smoke alongside tobacco smokers is not only a form of discrimination but will possibly cause harm to people with sensitive lungs who smoke herb but cannot stand cigarettes. Science simply does not provide rationale for imposing the smoking policy upon cannabis smoking.
For those who would prefer to avoid the smell of cannabis smoke, the best place for these gatherings is the Petch Fountains and the lawn in the center of campus. The meetings have grown every year, reaching a height of 380 students in late Sept 2010. The lawn by the SUB Building is barely large enough to accommodate for the current size of the club.
The noise of the road forces us to turn up the amplifier, adding to the general noise level on campus. When left to ourselves it was easy to adjust the volume for the number of students and to stay far away from buildings. Students at the bus stop and in some residences will be most affected.
Winter will be the most difficult time of year for us to hold our meetings without being in people`s way and closer to a building, as the group cannot gather on the grass when it is raining or we will damage the lawn, getting clothes and buildings dirty. While we can try to gather close together to keep away from students coming and going from the SUB, we will be much more difficult for many to avoid than when we were allowed at the Petch Fountains and anyone concerned could swing a wide berth around us.
If the administration does not grant the UVSS Hempology 101 Club an exemption for the tradition of 420 gathering every Weds at Petch Fountains, then it is the intent of the club to force a referendum upon the student body in March to see if the majority support the groups right to gather there. If that referendum is successful, the club would seek every means possible to move the meetings back to the center of campus. If the majority do not consider the meetings part of the traditional life of being a student at the University of Victoria, then we will happily stay at the SUB.
Apparently in 2014 the smoking ban would apply to the entire campus and moving the club would again be an issue, if it was not resolved now. We would prefer to settle this matter this year and not have to readdress the issue of our location again in the future.
Reason, freedom, democracy, tolerance, and cooperation are ideals students attend university to study and should be ideals held by the administration. Granting the UVSS Hempology 101 Club an exemption from the smoking policy would be the most rationale, fair, and prudent solution to the outlined problems.
James Parry. President, UVSS Hempology 101 Club
Leon ‘Ted’ Smith, President, International Hempology 101 Society
To Whom It May Concern,