Since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Boulder has been a hot spot in furthering the conversation about cannabis. The dialogue continued Wednesday at the Cannabis Symposium in the Wolf Law building on CU’s campus. Speakers and panelists spoke on a variety of topics related to marijuana — including legislation, commercial hemp, sustainable cannabis business practices and the ancient uses of cannabis.
The symposium was presented by the Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), in conjunction with Dr. Caroline Conzelman, an anthropology professor who teaches courses on drug policy. SSDP is a student-run organization that works toward the goal of legalizing all drugs in some form.
“I was hopeful that public discussions about cannabis and drug policies would lead to a much deeper level of critical thinking and interdisciplinary dialogue on our campus,” Conzelman said in her introduction, explaining why she helped to create the symposium.
Speakers ranged from university affiliates to people from the marijuana industry, as well as non-profit groups that have a message relevant to the symposium.
CU Chancellor Philip DiStefano started the daylong event with a speech about his experiences with 4/20. He talked about why the university previously took restrictive actions, including why he decided to open campus to the public this year for the first time since 2011.
“Students came to me and they were worried about the value of their degree,” DiStefano said, citing that as a reason he took efforts to close the campus to the public. “It was difficult to close the campus to non-affiliates, but at the time I thought it was the right thing to do. We should have many more educational things going on on campus on 4/20.”
One of the non-profits at the symposium was Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). Their executive director, Maj. Neill Franklin, closed the symposium as the featured speaker. LEAP, like SSDP, supports an end to prohibition of all drugs, not just marijuana.
“I think that one of the most effective advocates for ending these policies is the organization SSDP,” Franklin said, a 33-year veteran of the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department. “They are largely responsible for the education of our young people at the college level, it’s at most of the major universities in this country.”
Franklin said that education changed him from a prohibitionist to the role he is in today, and that education is exactly the focus of the symposium and SSDP.
“We wanted to take that opportunity that exists around 4/20 and turn it into an educational opportunity,” Nick Morris said, vice president of SSDP. “This event is really trying to get people excited about being able to do something about the legalization in other states.”
The Cannabis Symposium is scheduled to take place in the Glenn Miller Ballroom on April 20 next year, with the intention of broadening education, dialogue and harm reduction, and to give interested students a place to be on 4/20 that isn’t Norlin Quad.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Matthew DuBois at firstname.lastname@example.org.