Weed and sexual assault

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Stephanie Morphet
  • Stephanie Morphet

Marijuana advocates, medical or otherwise, face an uphill battle, and have for the last 80 or so years. It's hard enough convincing a population under constant bombardment from government-sponsored anti-cannabis messages that some people might actually benefit from the plant, without the threat of infighting.

Well, too bad, because today's an infighting day.

Earlier, members of SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation) and the Women's Marijuana Movement, as well as Stephanie Morphet, the 21-year-old UCCS student who leads the college's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, hit the steps of the Colorado State Capitol Building. Their argument: Marijuana prohibition indirectly encourages college students to drink, and thus suffer increased sexual assaults. The action is meant to also highlight April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Today, those behind the Legalize 2012 campaign made clear that they, um, disagree.

"Legalize 2012 is appalled that SAFER and the Women's Marijuana Movement would exploit the issue of Sexual Assault Awareness to make a case for the legalization of marijuana," the group stated in a news release. "This belittles the real causes of sexual assault and perpetuates the 'blame the victim' mentality that activists against sexual assault have been trying to overcome for years."

In a conversation today (see Thursday's Indy for more), Morphet said stats show 90 percent of college-level sexual assaults involve alcohol, while 50 percent overall are booze-related. While not hitting those exact numbers, a 2002 report by Wayne State University does say "at least half of these [college-level] sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, the victim or both."

Regardless, Legalize 2012 says they're not buying the connection that less alcohol and more pot means less assaults.

"SAFER/WMM do not give any research to back up their assertion ... because there is none," the release says. "Instead, they say that they want the federal government to do a study to explore to 'the possibility that alcohol-related assaults could be reduced if marijuana becomes a legal alternative to alcohol.'

"The Legalize 2012 campaign believes these outrageous statements diminish and cheapen the devastation of someone who has been sexually assaulted. For SAFER/WMM to say to the victims, 'if you would just have smoked a joint, you would not have been raped' puts the blame back on the victim of the assault, not the perpetrators. For SAFER/WMM to say to the perpetrator, 'if you would have just smoked a joint, you wouldn't have the urge to rape someone' ignores the underlying pathology, mental and societal problems that really cause a person to commit sexual assault."

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