BUZZKILL: Books to Bud

The bookstore will be replaced with a medical marijuana dispensary this spring as part of a collaborative student initiative

By Allison Tinsey

As reported in the Index earlier this quarter, the Kalamazoo College Bookstore is facing dwindling sales of textbooks as students turn to cheaper sources like Amazon to buy their books.

“It seems silly to even have a bookstore at a college our size,” Jeff Miller ‘14 said, one of the masterminds behind a new project that would make the bookstore lucrative once again.

“The bookstore should fulfill a need and students are not looking for books.”

Miller is the co-president of the Business and Economics Club at K who has teamed up with other groups to slowly integrate a medical marijuana dispensary into the bookstore. The dispensary would operate in the area currently occupied by unsold books that collect dust on the shelves each quarter. It would be staffed by work-study students and a new pharmacist hired by the College.

“It can be really difficult for students who do not have cars to access other local dispensaries to get the medication that they need,” said Emily Smith ’14, a Peer Health Advocate. “We want to ensure that students get their medication that meets CDC standards. They aren’t going to be able to find that with their friendly dealers.”

The major groups involved with the planning of this project include the Business and Economics Club, Peer Health Advocates, Student Commission, Students for a Sustainable Drug Policy (SSDP), Farms to K, DIRT, and EnvOrg.

Student Commission originally rejected the idea as an Innovation Fund project when President Camilleri deemed it as a larger issue that the College should be responsible for funding.

“Students’ health should not be the concern of the Student Activities Fee,” he said.

In a recent meeting with the Board of Trustees Camilleri brought up the dispensary idea, which was well received by the Board who appreciated the collaboration and extensive planning that has gone into this project. The project will have support from the Chemistry, Biology, Philosophy, Economics and Business, and Environmental Sciences departments.

“Farms to K, EnvOrg, and DIRT will be responsible for growing the many varieties of medicinal marijuana,” said Charlotte Steele ’14, an advocate for sustainable agriculture. “We want to make sure we over see the entire agricultural process from seed to spliff.”

“It will be sad to see the books go, but it will mean the bookstore is actually making money,” said Debbie Thompson, Director of the Bookstore. “We needed a new market to explore and this is the perfect time to do so.”

Along with fulfilling prescriptions, the Bookstore, which will now be referred to simply as ‘Kush,’ will have a large selection of ‘medical equipment’, much of which is brand compliant and imprinted with K logos. These items will be 20% off during the Bookstore’s quarterly sale.

“This isn’t about helping students get high, it’s about keeping people healthy using sustainable, economical, and alternative medical treatments,” said Lea Bonaparte ’15, President of the SSDP.

“As a user of medical marijuana, I needed a safe place to procure my prescription and I am really happy to see this happening at K,” said T.J. DeMarco ’16.

Students will have a small pot-leaf sticker to put on their ID cards to make it clear to security and RAs that they are allowed to have marijuana on campus. Students still cannot smoke in the dormitories, but an area of the Bookstore’s warehouse has been set aside and decorated with tapestries and comfy beanbags for students to use.

“In the long-term, this project will pay for itself,” Miller assured the Index.

The dispensary will be opened on April 1, 2014 and will be having a bake sale through the end of exam week to help raise funds for the project. They are also planning a Zoo After Dark event to correspond with 4/20 to help stamp out stigmas associated with medical marijuana use.

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