Palm Beach Atlantic University, while being a private institution and a drug-free, dry campus, held a medical marijuana discussion on Wednesday, April 18, as a chapel opportunity for students. After watching three videos from the company Q Ideas, students were encouraged to gather in groups of five to seven to discuss provocative questions; these questions included what a Christian's opinion should be on medical marijuana, what possible positive and negative outcomes would result from legalization and even the nature of substance abuse in the United States.
"It is a fruitful discussion to be able to openly talk about these controversial issues," PBA senior Scott Brown said.
Florida is one of 30 states to legalize marijuana in some form- medically or recreationally- as of January 2018; Florida officially legalized its medical use in January 2017. The people of Florida attempted this year to get full marijuana legalization on the November ballot; however, the necessary 766,000 signatures were not collected by the Feb. 1 deadline.
Although the state of Florida will have to wait another year to get recreational marijuana on the state ballot, this has been a hot topic nationwide. The federal government still prohibits the use of marijuana on any grounds; various states nationwide have passed state laws allowing medical and recreational cannabis.
Students who attended the evening discussion generally respected the university for addressing such a controversial issue and allowing students to challenge their own beliefs and suppositions. Also, students seemed to agree that fundamentally medical marijuana should be legalized due to its health benefits.
"I respect the fact that our college does talk about [marijuana] and is very open to discussion and knowing the opinions of its students," PBA freshman Maddie Chiola said. "I think it really helps everyone be more informed about it and maybe have a better mindset and openness to it."
In the discussion, many students felt informed enough on the problems of recreational marijuana as opposed to the benefits of medical marijuana. Despite this, discussion was positive, and the videos added new information for students to consider.
"I think it's good that we are talking about this," PBA freshman Amanda Paez said. "I think more kids need to talk about this because it is a serious problem that is happening in the United States."
Students greatly appreciated the opportunity to talk about real world issues and even more so appreciated the response period following discussion. Five students were asked to share questions and thoughts from their discussion with Natalie Johnson, assistant director of ResLife at PBA, and Anne Patterson, resident director at Baxter Hall.
"I think this is a really relevant discussion that can be used for the church in some ways but also for us as individuals in society," PBA junior Noah Latner said.
The night offered an opportunity for students to get more than just chapel credit. It allowed students to question beliefs, formulate ideas and address more immediate debates than those in a typical college class.