Finally, a university is acknowledging that if students are doing drugs, they might as well do them right.
College students use drugs. Like, a lot of drugs.
Despite universities' best efforts to keep them from doing so, 39 percent of college students admit to illicit drug use during their academic career, and that number is has been increasing over the last decade. Thus, it's become more and more clear over the years that focusing resources on the prevention of drug use doesn't work.
Instead, what students really need isn't a faceless organization telling them not to use recreational drugs, it's a resource they can use to find out how to use them safely.
Now, CU-Boulder is leading the charge on this new approach to college drug use by acknowledging that if college kids are going to do drugs, they might as well do them right.
To maximize this approach, CU-Boulder's Psychedelic Club is joining together with Students for Sensible Drug Policy to ensure that students on the Boulder campus use drugs intelligently. In addition to providing information and education to students who want to experiment, they'll also be handing out drug-testing kits so that students know what they're ingesting, as well as coordinating trip-sitting, which is when a trained individual coaches someone through their first experience with psychedelics. And although neither of the groups encourage drug use, both believe that access to these kinds of resources can help students avoid potentially dangerous experiences.
"If someone wanted to come get some educational materials, say, on the proper dosing for (marijuana) edibles so they don't overdo it, they can come and get that information," says Beth Henneman, who leads Students for Sensible Drug Policy at CU.
Henneman's group is the friendly neighborhood chapter of a nation-wide organization that seeks to reform drug policies and laws. The Psychedelic Club is working to eliminate the negative stigma around psychedelic substances, such as LSD and peyote.
"We go with the approach of 'OK, we acknowledge that this is a college campus, people are going to use,' but at least what we can do is provide information to them to make healthy and safe choices while they're using," Henneman says.
According to data from the spring 2015 National College Health Assessment, 7 percent of CU students use weed daily, and nearly 65 percent have smoked it at some point in their lives. And while you could argue that weed isn't really a narcotic, and that it's difficult to use it un-safely, there are still a lot of sheltered kids fresh out of high school who could really use some resources on how to smoke and eat weed like a pro.
Then there's harder drugs. Nineteen percent of CU students have tried cocaine, two percent have done meth, and another nineteen percent have tripped on hallucinogens. About twenty percent of students have used ecstasy or some other MDMA derivative.
All this becomes extremely relevant when viewed in the light of Samuel Forgy's recent death. The CU applied mathematics student was shot and killed last year by police after he reportedly attacked people with a knife and hammer. His autopsy revealed he'd been on a dangerous concoction of weed, caffeine, amphetamines and LSD before his death.
Henneman told the Denver Post that Forgy's death inspired her to spearhead CU's safe drug use initiative. She believes he'd still be alive today if he'd had more information about potentially dangerous drug interactions and if the people around him had a better grasp on how to calm him down. No doubt there's some truth to that.
So, good on you CU, for not denying students the information and resources they need to take drugs right. It's a progressive step forward, one that echoes the recent sentiment of both citizens and government believing the War on Drugs approach is useless, and that it's time to acknowledge, not repress, student's need to experiment.
And while we've long since graduated, we'd still be glad to take some of those testing kits off your hands for you … last summer's baby laxative/ molly mix-up was not easy on the gut.