Imagine it’s your first week of college. You don’t have much experience smoking pot or even drinking - in fact, you’re kind of scared of substances of any kind.
Everyone is getting to know each other, enjoying being away from the eyes of their parents for the first time, but it seems a little uptight. No one really likes to hang out outdoors. With all the cops around, they might as well be under the watch of their parents all over again.
Soon you’re invited to hang out with some other new students in a dorm. The room is dark and smokey. There’s a few people you know there, but it looks like mostly older students. It looks like a guy is passed out drunk in one of the beds, though no one besides you seems concerned. Someone is passing around a complicated looking glass bong. The scene feels rather seedy and uncomfortable and, soon it’s your turn. The pressure is on.
Now imagine a different scenario. It’s still your first week of college, and you still don’t have much experience with any substances.
This time everyone is hanging out outdoors at the various picnic tables and pavilions around campus and close to the dorms. A few people might be drinking a beer, but everyone seems totally functional and safe - if it seemed like they were drinking too much or falling ill, their friends would be around to help them. Rarely you might see one of the campus police driving by, but they aren’t there to bother anyone. Someone passes around a small joint, which some people smoke and others simply pass to the next person. When it comes around to you, you feel no obligation to say yes or no.
Which of these seems like the better situation?
While college police and administrators might think they’re doing the right thing by having police constantly monitoring the students and removing outdoor social spaces where something like smoking weed might occur, the likely result is probably more detrimental.
Students need to feel comfortable to spend time outdoors. If they don’t, they’ll be more apt to hide in their dorms, where unmonitored binge consumption is far more likely to occur.