USG hears allocations for drug policy conference

Members+of+USG+hear+proposals+at+public+USG+forum+in+the+Kent+State+Governance+Chambers+on+October+21%2C+2015

Members of USG hear proposals at public USG forum in the Kent State Governance Chambers on October 21, 2015

Sarah Matthews

Members of Kent State’s Undergraduate Student Government listened to presentations regarding police and safety on Halloween, and the finished product of construction on Summit Street during Wednesday night’s public meeting in the Governance Chambers.

Also present at the meeting were two representatives from Student’s for Sensible Drug Policy to discuss funding allocations.

Desra Diehl, treasurer of SSSDP, addressed USG after the organization’s recent request for allocations to attend The International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C. was denied.

“The reason it was denied was because when I asked my allocations committee, they said the funds weren’t split evenly and the person who was explaining it to our committee didn’t show to have knowledge of the conference,” said Colin Otubu, USG’s director of business and finance.

In a letter outlining her appeal, Diehl said she was unable to address USG herself at the original allocations meeting because she was notified only 24 hours in advance. Instead, SSDP’s secretary Cody Eagan presented the proposal.

USG senator at large Alexis Lewis said she could relate to Eagan’s situation due to a similar situation with her own student organization.

“It really can get confusing and it really is putting you on the spot,” Lewis said. “It is kind of intimidating presenting an allocations request in this room.”

Diehl said the conference was of vital importance because it presents many advantages for the organization’s members, including networking opportunities.

“This conference is really going to mean a lot to our organization because it’s the international conference and a lot of our members do wish to work in this area when we graduate. So we’re going to have the opportunity to network with some really great people in the field,” said Diehl, a senior integrated health studies major.

Diehl said the conference will allow those who attend to learn about current research going on and bring the information back to Kent State. She said multiple topics will be covered at the conference, including harm reduction, marijuana reform and criminal justice reform.

“This conference will give us the opportunity to learn about all the legislation that is being written,” she said. “We’re going to be able to learn some different strategies and ways that we can change policies here at Kent State.”

Otubu said some members of the allocations committee were also concerned the request went in violation of USG’s guidelines. The guidelines state USG cannot fund partisan political activities intended to influence voting on issues or candidates currently on a ballot.

With the Nov. 3  general election approaching, Issue 3 has been a popular debate among Ohio voters. This issue relates to the Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative, which would legalize the limited sale and use of marijuana and create 10 facilities with exclusive commercial rights to grow the drug.

According to a new poll from the University of Akron, Ohioans are split evenly on whether to legalize marijuana in the state, with 46 percent of registered voters equally supportive and against Issue 3.

Diehl said there’s nothing specifically about Issue 3 on the agenda at the conference and the conference will take place after the election.

“The marijuana reform section is just going to be talking about advantages and disadvantages, and what people can do to better the movement,” she said.

After hearing the appeal, members of USG voted to approve the organization’s allocations request to attend the conference. The final vote tally for the request included 13 votes for yes, three for no and six abstains.

Sarah Matthews is the student politics and USG reporter for The Kent Stater. contact her at [email protected]