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New student marijuana alliance comes to SHU

smartlogo-courtesy-of-SMART-1024x398
Courtesy of SMART

The Student Marijuana Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) was recently established at Seton Hall. According to its Facebook page, the alliance focuses on bringing cannabis education to universities and bridging the gap for millennials interested in career opportunities.

Olivia Giles-Johnson, co-founder of SMART, said she and her other co-founder, Rachel Gilbert, brought SMART to campus to educate the student body.

“We find that it is key that everyone is enlightened to key concepts like responsible consumption, the difference between hemp vs. cannabis, and the impact of the War on Drugs,” Giles-Johnson said. “Establishing education that prepares our members to speak confidently through stigmatizing myths that have been debunked time and [time] again.”

According to a 2017 pamphlet put out by the Drug Education Administration, one in every 22 college students use marijuana daily, while nearly 85 percent of college students surveyed said that they believe a friend used marijuana in the last 30 days.

Additionally, according to a January 2018 article by Aaron Smith that was published by CNN Business, the marijuana industry was accountable for a $9 billion profit in 2017. That profit was spread over only 121,000 people.

“SMART stands by the need to educate our society about the plant and its global benefits,” Giles-Johnson said. “We are also interested in providing the greater campus community with major career opportunities and access to a thriving industry.”

Erin Kelly, a senior communications and public relations major, said that there should be more opportunities to learn about marijuana at Seton Hall. “I am indifferent on whether or not it should be legalized in New Jersey,” Kelly said. “However, I see posters that have information about edibles, which isn’t enough information for me,” referring to the posters that are seen around campus offering students information about edibles, or food products infused with marijuana.

Giles-Johnson said that the university was open-minded in their allowance of the organization on campus.

“We did not face much push back while trying to bring the organization to campus,” Giles-Johnson said. “There are people who are against cannabis completely, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Whether or not everyone understands the benefits of cannabis, we want to use the same principles of academic exploration to bring pioneering impact to New Jersey cannabis history."

However, some students said that they are not completely on board with the idea of bringing an organization with such heavy affiliation to campus. One student, a senior diplomacy and international relations major who asked not to be named, said that she has seen the negative effects of marijuana in her hometown.

“Without a doubt ethical issues will always arise in the conversation,” she said. “I saw first-hand the way that it can become a gateway drug to other things. I don’t know if that is the best thing to have on campus.”

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Dalton Allison can be reached at dalton.allison@student.shu.edu. Follow him on Twitter @daltonallison4.

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