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Cody Mitchell, a University of Colorado sophomore, takes a flier advocating for the legalization of marijuana from Andrew Orr on campus Thursday.
Stephen Swofford
Cody Mitchell, a University of Colorado sophomore, takes a flier advocating for the legalization of marijuana from Andrew Orr on campus Thursday.

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For more information on CU’s alcohol and drug policy, visit colorado.edu/alcohol/policies.

Students at the University of Colorado asked for marijuana possession penalties to be lessened to match discipline for having alcohol on campus Thursday, but school officials said they are already similar.

While legalization of marijuana is the ultimate goal of the nationwide protest’s organizing group, SAFER, students at CU said they were more concerned about changing university disciplinary action to match that of alcohol punishment.

Protester Andrew Orr, a CU junior, said the SAFER initiative emphasizes the ability for adults to choose between alcohol and marijuana use as a recreational drug.

“As adults, it should be our right to choose,” Orr said. “It’s a safer drug than alcohol, so we should be able to consume it instead if we want and we shouldn’t be punished worse for choosing to use one over the other.”

Students handed out fliers at the University Memorial Center promoting the recreational use of marijuana over alcohol, because they said it causes less bodily harm. Students then marched across campus to the chancellor’s office to voice their concerns to administrators.

Students at the rally said the protest was brought on by a university policy that punishes alcohol possession in the dorms with one strike to the student’s record but two for possession of pot.

However, university spokesman Bronson Hilliard disputed the claim, saying the number of strikes is assigned on a case-by-case basis. Punishment for first-time alcohol and marijuana possessions include parental notification, enrollment in an offender program and fees, community service and probation, according to the university’s Web site.

“Each drug and alcohol offense is considered separately,” Hilliard said. “Action is taken based on each individual circumstance and they cannot be compared because one beer is not necessarily equal to a joint.”

CU police issued 166 citations for petty offense possession, or less than one ounce, of marijuana in 2008 and 312 summonses in 2009, said police spokeswoman Molly Bosley. Punishment includes a fine of no more than $100.

“Marijuana is a growing problem on campus and is something that we encounter on a regular basis,” Bosley wrote in an e-mail.

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