Experts field marijuana questions

By By Robert Mullen, News Correspondent

‘ A panel of experts on law and law enforcement from Northeastern and the state of Massachusetts assembled Wednesday night to educate students on what has and hasn’t changed with the passage of Question 2, which decriminalizes possession of up to an ounce of marijuana.
The panel consisted of Valerie Randall-Lee, the director of the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR), Jim Ferrier, Northeastern’s associate’ director of public safety, and Suzanne Bynes, the assistant defense attorney for Middlesex County. Students were addressed by the panel in the West Addition of the Curry Student Center and each member spoke about changes before the floor was opened for questions from students.
‘What happens today if you are found with marijuana is exactly the same thing that would have happened to you on Nov. 1,’ said Randall-Lee during her address to the students.
This was echoed by Ferrier and Bynes as well. Bynes emphasized that distribution, cultivation and possession of marijuana are still criminal acts.
‘As of Jan. 2, it is no longer a criminal offense to possess less than an ounce of marijuana,’ she said.
She said that despite the fact it is not criminal, it is still not legal. Possession of less than an ounce was likened to a traffic violation. She also mentioned that cities or towns in Massachusetts are allowed to pass public ordinances to ban smoking in public. School districts also have the right to suspend or expel students for possession, she said.
Jim Ferrier spoke next and again stated that marijuana is still illegal. He explained that Northeastern University Division of Public Safety (NUPD) has the right to conduct searches to make sure that more than an ounce is not possessed, therefore making search procedures no different than before Question 2 passed.
In addition, Randall-Lee said that if there will be any changes to Northeastern’s Code of’ Student Conduct, it won’t be until next year. She said that changes cannot be put into effect until the next academic year.
During the student question portion of the panel, Lee was asked if a change in the Code of Student Conduct would ever occur. She acknowledged that due to new state laws it would definitely have to be considered.
Ferrier answered many questions with the point that all criminal offenses found by NUPD are automatically referred to OSCCR. Randall-Lee fielded most of the questions during this part of the event. This led to the panel at some points turning to Randall-Lee explaining the way OSCCR runs and how they handle certain cases. One note Ferrier mentioned during student questions was a warning for students to ‘be careful of what you put on Facebook.’
At some points the panel was unable to answer a question. Suzanne Bynes said that because the law was so new, there are still unanswered questions. When asked if he was unsatisfied by the answers to any of his questions, sophomore architecture major Raymond Boris said ‘yes, but they don’t know anything about it because it’s a new law.’
Junior criminal justice major Nicole Jackson said she was also satisfied with the answers of the panel.
‘They said everything they knew,’ she said.
Rules for students will not change, but freshman business major Kyle Rinsey didn’t seem fazed.
‘Kids that smoked before Question 2 passed are the same kids that smoke after Question 2. Nothing this panel said will make them stop,’ he said.

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