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Michigan will vote on whether to legalize recre­ational mar­i­juana in the general election on Nov. 6. Wiki­media Commons

Use of recre­ational mar­i­juana becomes legal for adults over 21 years old in Michigan on Thursday, but at Hillsdale College, drug policy remains the same: Stu­dents and employees of the college may not use or possess mar­i­juana.

The college forbids mar­i­juana because there is “strong evi­dence that it is bad for one and hurts one’s ability to think and work at a high level,” said Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arnn in an email.

“The college was founded to ‘improve the hearts and develop the minds’ of the stu­dents. This refers to the moral and intel­lectual virtues, both of which are involved in this policy,” Arnn said.

The college’s drug policy as found in the course cat­a­logue forbids “use, pos­session, dis­tri­b­ution, or being in the presence of any amount of a con­trolled sub­stance (drugs and/or drug para­pher­nalia: water pipes, bongs, etc.)” for stu­dents. The policy holds stu­dents accountable for both on- and off-campus behavior, said Dean of Men Aaron Petersen.

This policy is in keeping with the college’s desire to cul­tivate stu­dents who are “healthy, strong human beings,” said Dean of Women Diane Philipp in a statement pro­vided to The Col­legian.

For college employees, too, drug policy remains as written.

The college’s employee handbook states that “the unlawful man­u­facture, dis­tri­b­ution, dis­pensing, pos­session, or use of a con­trolled sub­stance is pro­hibited at the College.”

Though the college does not have to rewrite its employee policy in light of the changes in Michigan law, the human resources department did send out a statement to faculty and staff in a newsletter on Monday to reaffirm the policy.

The statement cited federal law — which still crim­i­nalizes mar­i­juana use — and health con­se­quences as the reasons for banning mar­i­juana for employees. But law is not the fun­da­mental factor in the policy.

“Federal law says it’s illegal,” said Chief Admin­is­trative Officer Rich Péwé. “But regardless of that, we would not want it on campus.”

Péwé said mar­i­juana would be “dis­ruptive” to a good working envi­ronment and counter the college’s mission. He said mar­i­juana use among employees at the college is “very rare,” and that he’s had to deal with it perhaps once in 20 years.

“We expect a lot from each other,” he said, noting that all orga­ni­za­tions make policies for conduct that reflect who the orga­ni­zation is. “As employees, you rep­resent the college. We want to be good human beings. Mar­i­juana changes people’s lives, and usually not in a good way.”

Mar­i­juana presents sig­nif­icant health con­cerns, said Director of Health Ser­vices Brock Lutz, noting that studies have shown that it leads to cog­nitive impairment and cor­re­lates with schiz­o­phrenia, but many of its effects are unknown.

“The chal­lenge is that we just don’t know,” Lutz said. “There are health con­cerns and I think, most of all, health ques­tions.”

Lutz said mar­i­juana also has “insidious” emo­tional con­se­quences from the drug’s sedative effect, which sets long-term users into a mood of com­pla­cency toward life.

“I’ve noticed among people who are con­sistent mar­i­juana users is there is a slow-growing medi­ocrity that sets in. It really mimics what it looks like when someone’s depressed,” Lutz said.

Other Michigan col­leges are also still banning mar­i­juana, despite the change in state law. Spring Arbor Uni­versity forbids mar­i­juana, including medical mar­i­juana, for stu­dents of any age on and off campus, and will not be changing that policy, said Dan Van­derhill, vice pres­ident of student devel­opment. Van­derhill cited “per­sonal health, spir­itual health, and safety” as the reasons for the policy.

The Uni­versity of Michigan’s drug policy on its website declares that the change in state law does not change the school’s no-drug policy for stu­dents and employees on campus, citing federal law.

“U-M receives federal funding for various uses, including research and student financial aid,” the policy states. “As such, U-M must comply with federal law, including all current federal drug laws.”

In a memo to stu­dents and staff, Jackson College also cited federal law and federal funding as reasons for main­taining its no-drug policy.

But if federal law were to legalize mar­i­juana, Hillsdale College policy likely would remain the same.

“That fact alone would not make us change,” Arnn said. “Two reasons why we do not always follow only the law: the college has a dif­ferent purpose from the country, although the pur­poses are com­patible; laws can be silly and wrong­headed. We must obey them, but we are not restricted to doing only what they say.”

Petersen said he doesn’t often have to deal with student mar­i­juana use.

“Thank­fully, it is not some­thing I have to deal with a lot,” he said. “However, it comes up. Every one to two years I will have to address mar­i­juana use with a student or two.”

A sub­stance-addicted life is the opposite of what a Hillsdale student’s life should look like, Lutz said.

“We really want our stu­dents to display grit and resilience and courage in facing life’s problems, because I think our per­spective is that people grow and they change as people when they face hard things and go through hard things,” Lutz said. “Drugs stop you from dealing with life. They hide it.”

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    Hillsdale College is not required to allow mar­i­juana use on campus, just as they can pro­hibit use of alco­holic spirits or tobacco smoking. I believe Michigan made a serious mistake allowing use of this drug. Be that as it may, Hillsdale is prudent to keep it off campus. They should adjust their Honor Code to include use of drugs including mar­i­juana, if it isn’t already called out as such.

    • Jen­nifer Melfi

      unfor­tu­nately it’s already on campus, and in somewhat sig­nif­icant quan­tities. They are college kids. They exper­iment. Wrong­headed and counter-pro­ductive move here. Also, the quo­ta­tions from the staff and Dr. Arnn are fac­tually incorrect. Dean Peterson’s statement is untrue/false/lie.

      • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

        I have no doubt there are some who are imbibing, kids are kids. But they’d be better off not doing that. I don’t claim to be an expert on Mar­i­juana, I have tried it a few times back when I was that age and didn’t like the sen­sation.

        The member of my family who are regular users are dis­ap­pointing and non-achievers within the family, they have accom­plished almost nothing with their lives in 50 – 60 years. There seems to be a cor­re­lation between heavy use of dope and dimin­ished interest in achievement. Mind you, this is my obser­vation over 64 years of life and not a sci­en­tific study-perhaps the relax­ation effect of the THC is similar to Xanax and it dulls the ‘drive’ that makes us achievers. Dunno.

        • Jen­nifer Melfi

          Christian con­ser­v­a­tives seem to have a huge issue dis­crim­i­nating between facts and values. Your per­sonal examples are inter­esting, but overall they are useless in deter­mining the value of this policy. These days, EVERYONE at ALL LEVELS of society gets high. Watch “High Main­te­nance” on HBO for an artful dis­course on the levels of use. So at a certain point, keeping this out of the hands of hillsdale stu­dents will actually do more to keep good stu­dents out of hillsdale than any­thing else.

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            I maintain it dimin­ishes drive and pro­motes dis­in­terest in things which would oth­erwise compel curiosity. Of course it’s a value judgement, it’s my obser­va­tions which led to it.

            I know a few folks who have acquired higher degrees who also partake of mar­i­juana on a regular basis-they are without exception sin­gu­larly without interest in much besides their career and smoking dope. One is a physician in Michigan-he’s com­petent in his field, but has poor ratings from his con­tributing patients in online reviews. Talk to him on just about any topic outside of his career and he drops off because of lack of interest and/or lack of knowledge.

            It seems to be quite a common con­dition among habitual users of that drug, including several in my own family. Until my con­cerns are proven false in a sci­en­tific study I would advise caution-at least among folks who value intel­lectual achievement and natural curiosity.

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            caution — you mean like exper­i­menting in places that are phys­i­cally safe, around peers that care about you, in a campus town that doesn’t have as many obvious pit­falls lurking? Yeah — I would agree. College is the place to exper­iment with drugs a little bit. You’ll be a better person for it. As one of Hillsdale College’s most beloved pro­fessors, Dr. Reist, used to say: “Try it, you’ll like it”

          • Timothy Dexter

            Because the college is a safe place, perhaps it should allow snake han­dling. The stu­dents would be better people for it.

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            Bad analogy tim. You have obvi­ously never smoked the sweet bud, so go comment on the board of bob jones uni­versity where snake han­dling is the only form of fun allowed.

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            I on the other hand of par­taken of ‘Muskegon Rip-Throat’ and ‘Lansing Lotus’, which I assume qual­ifies as the ‘sweet bud’. Admit­tedly this was many decades ago in my gilded youth, but I can act as the subject matter spe­cialist if needs be.

            The only snake han­dling I’ve done is garter snakes on my Dad’s farm during their spring rut. I can’t say I enjoyed it, they usually uri­nated on your hand before being set free to do their snaky things.

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            ‘Because the college is a safe place, perhaps it should allow snake han­dling.’

            Sssssssay, I think you have sssssss­some­thing there!

          • Timothy Dexter

            Again, I agree. Aris­totle and others appear to see a rela­tionship between moral virtue and intel­lectual virtue. Someone who habit­uates himself to dis­si­pation or indo­lence, for instance, will likely run into problems with the devel­opment in the intel­lectual virtues – those that habits of a strong, well-ordered mind.

            The doctor you mention is likely the exception to the rule, not the exception that dis­proves the rule. Some people have an intel­lectual capacity that is so keen that it can seem dis­con­nected from a person’s moral char­acter.

          • Timothy Dexter

            Good sug­gestion. Perhaps I’ll watch it. After all, “Game of Thrones” is a pretty good dis­course on levels of use of magic in all levels of our society.

            Also, I apol­ogize for using the word “levels” twice in a single sen­tence, but mim­icking your style demanded it of me.

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            once again Tim, ter­rible analogy — just awful. I would encourage you to read a book because it seems like your brain is stunted by all the tv you watch. The Fox News + GOT has warped your brain.

          • Timothy Dexter

            Let me know if HBO pub­lishes a print edition of “High Main­te­nance.”

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            Come on Jen­nifer, we have some­thing special going on here. Be nice.

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            LOL. We have a great debate going here, let’s not debase it by throwing stones, Tim. I want to see more of this type of dis­cussion in ‘The Hillsdale Col­legian’.

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            ‘.…keeping this out of the hands of hillsdale stu­dents will actually do more to keep good stu­dents out of hillsdale than any­thing else.’

            That extension is debatable, in my opinion. I know several heavy smokers of dope who chose their college based on it being the top school for what they wanted to major in. Their policy on dope smoking never fac­tored into the decision of where to go to school.

            If imbibing mar­i­juana is THAT important to someone, chances are that is not a person we want to attend Hillsdale College. I’ll grant that in rare cir­cum­stances that may work against bringing in a top student, but only rare cir­cum­stances. The vast majority of top stu­dents don’t have time for regular drug use.

        • Timothy Dexter

          Good points. One books Hillsdale stu­dents are familiar with is Aristotle’s Nico­machean Ethics. In it, he explains human nature at length, including his description of moral virtue. Moral virtue is formed by habit. Mar­i­juana places one in a state that thwarts the practice of moral virtue and probably pro­motes the practice of vice (dis­si­pation, indo­lence, etc.). The result is a person defi­cient in moral virtue, par­tic­u­larly those virtues that deal with tem­perance, for­titude, and industry.

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            Does mar­i­juana do this? Have you ever tried it, Tim? Is it any dif­ferent than any other legal mood altering sub­stance (alcohol, nicotine, caf­feine?). I’m pretty sure Aris­totle, Plato, and Socrates all had some­thing to say about people who ran their mouth about stuff they didn’t under­stand — Huck­sters or fools.

          • Timothy Dexter

            I forgot to con­sider the writings of Socrates. I apol­ogize.

            As for Plato and Aris­totle, however, the chief method of knowing is obser­vation. I am not aware of any obser­va­tions of self-destruction via caf­feine, though there are many of self-destruction via alcohol and nicotine. Perhaps those two, along with mar­i­juana, are dif­ferent in kind.

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            I’ll have to read the Aris­totle book during my week off at Christmas, I’m not familiar with that work-sadly, because I am Greek descent.

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    by citing uni­versity of michigan as a reason for upholding a ban on mar­i­juana, Hillsdale has abdi­cated the tiny amount of moral authority that still remained. They have sac­ri­ficed their prin­ciples by renouncing freedom and banning the drug, and then citing a place that they nor­mally use a sort of “evil-empire” for com­parison. SAD!

    • Ellsworth_Toohey

      It’s not clear what you are sug­gesting. Uni­versity of Michigan’s admis­sions require­ments are tougher then Hillsdale’s you are aware? And the fact they do (openly) accept federal money seems like a logical reason.

      • Jen­nifer Melfi

        Hillsdale nor­mally cites u of m as an example of what not to do, saying that hillsdale is morally and tech­ni­cally superior. Now, hillsdale is using u of m as cover to defend their choice to not do the right thing.

        • Ellsworth_Toohey

          I know, and it get’s tiring. Sorry I thought you were doing it. With freedom comes great respon­si­bility. I know some UofM stu­dents who crashed and burn, but I know many more who went onto great things. College is what you make of it.

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            Agreed. Always up for good convos on here. I just believe that by setting yourself up on a higher ground, you have higher respon­si­bility. The quo­ta­tions pro­vided here are not a well-thought out position. I also know that the dean is being dis­honest, as they usually have 4 – 10 run ins with mar­i­juana per year

  • Rogue A.I.

    Fear mon­gering against mar­i­juana is what has allowed the unjust War on Drugs to con­tinue, at the cost of bil­lions of dollars and countless lives ruined by incar­cer­ation.

    Stereo­typing mar­i­juana as some­thing only lazy people do is inac­curate. People across all walks of life use mar­i­juana for a variety of reasons.

    Intel­lectual honesty should be a virtue Hillsdale admin­is­trators, faculty and stu­dents aspire to.

    I don’t per­sonally use any drugs or alcohol, but I think out­lawing mar­i­juana is in vio­lation of per­sonal freedoms. People that promote the War on Drugs hate per­sonal freedom and indi­vidual liberty. Anyone that claims to value freedom and liberty yet sup­ports the War on Drugs is a rank hyp­ocrite.

    For­tu­nately Hillsdale’s dic­tates don’t include the force of law.

    • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

      ‘I don’t per­sonally use any drugs or alcohol, but I think out­lawing mar­i­juana is in vio­lation of per­sonal freedoms. People that promote the War on Drugs hate per­sonal freedom and indi­vidual liberty. Anyone that claims to value freedom and liberty yet sup­ports the War on Drugs is a rank hyp­ocrite.’

      Rather harsh. We don’t live in an absolutely free society, on that we agree. There are things that we, as a society, determine are not in the best interests OF THE WHOLE. Yelling ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater is the classic example-it’s a hedge on Freedom of Speech, but one most of us agree on.

      Anyone who has been to Ams­terdam recently can tell you what no restric­tions on Mar­i­juana use does to society. If you’ve never been there, you should go. It’s not a handsome sight.

      • Rogue A.I.

        Fine, you dis­agree. There’s another angle, however. The prac­tical one: pro­hi­bition doesn’t work. It places huge costs on society, in the growth of illegal drug gangs, the mass incar­cer­ation of indi­viduals and the fam­ilies destroyed. Mass incar­cer­ation costs double, the cost to arrest, convict and house inmates and the lost pro­duc­tivity as well. The world hasn’t ended in the states that have legalized mar­i­juana. I’ve been to Ams­terdam and it didn’t seem out of control.

        • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

          So because pro­hi­bition doesn’t work well you propose com­plete legal­ization? Odd argument in my opinion.

          Ams­terdam is a cesspool, I’ve been there and through there many times on business. Whether it seemed ‘out of control’ in your view is another dis­cussion. Not a model for a dynamic society, in my view.

          • Rogue A.I.

            I don’t con­sider putting people in jail for a vic­timless crime “doing better.”

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            I agree, we should instead fine them and use it to pay down our state deficits.

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            I actually thought Ams­terdam was fun and pretty nice. It’s as least as nice as any place in Michigan. I think Michigan should aspire to be at least as nice as Ams­terdam.

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            this was both­ering me, so I looked it up. Now I know these are sub­jective to some extent, but Ams­terdam ranks as #12 in the world by this measure — https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/galleries/The-worlds-most-liveable-cities/amsterdam/ here too: https://www.iamexpat.nl/expat-info/dutch-expat-news/amsterdam-ranks-highly-mercer-2018-quality-living-ranking

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            I’ve been to every city on that list except for Auckland, New Zealand and they’re mostly pretty nice. EXCEPT for Ams­terdam, it’s a chit hole.

          • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

            If you’ve never been there you really should visit. Any­thing goes in Ams­terdam and believe me, I’ve seen it all there. Watching a bunch of ganja-happy hobos walking around in dirty, smelly clothes and dread­locks isn’t my idea of a good time. Never mind getting trapped in a train-car with them. Western europe is going down the tubes and Ams­terdam is the loco­motive.

  • Rogue A.I.

    Con­ser­v­a­tives pay lip service to liberty and freedom, but when it comes down to it they’ll choose author­i­tar­i­anism every time. Per­sonal freedoms and eco­nomic prin­ciples are usually the first to go. For proof of this you need look no further than the pres­i­dency of Donald Trump.

    • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

      Liberty and Freedom can’t exist in a vacuum and they aren’t absolutes. Anarchy is not liberty, every society has con­straints on per­sonal freedom.

      And whoever said Donald Trump was a clas­sical con­ser­v­ative? Even so, he’s far superior to the alter­native we had to choose from in 2016.

  • Joseph Hendee

    Gary Wolfram the College’s own Eco­nomic Pro­fessor with tenure advo­cates for the Michigan Canibis Club. He is who the College needs to get rid of. He’s a dis­grace !!!!

  • Nikola Tesla, whom I think we can all agree is a good role model and rep­re­sents Hillsdale values, would agree with Larry Arn that weed is for slackers.

    • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

      Nikola Tesla was the most under­ap­pre­ciated GENIUS in US history. He didn’t have the business acumen of Thomas Edison, but was far more bril­liant. I pause a moment in his honor every time his name is men­tioned.