UTPD files majority of drug-related charges in dorms, garages

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Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

UT dormitories, parking garages and the Renaissance Market on Guadalupe Street are the most common places for drug-related charges on and near campus, according to the UTPD’s crime logs from the past six months.

UTPD officers often catch students smoking marijuana in dormitories because they remain mistaken of how far the characteristic odor of the drug has permeated, UTPD officer William Pieper said.

“The students that want to smoke marijuana make the mistake of smoking it in their dorm room, and because it is a confined space, the odor is easy to detect,” Pieper said. “Staff police officers could be patrolling, other residents could smell that, and then they report it to the police department, and then we investigate it.”

The illegality of marijuana justifies police searches for the substance in dormitories if there is probable cause, regardless of students’ varying opinions on the issue, government junior Andres Cerecero said.

“[Marijuana] is illegal in Texas, so police officers do have every right to search,” Cerecero said. “It differs based on every student’s opinion, but when it comes down to it, marijuana is still illegal, and if you are afraid of a police officer searching your room and getting busted for it, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

UTPD officers have filed drug-related charges on three separate occasions at The University United Methodist Church. Pieper said these charges occurred either in the church’s parking lot or while an officer approached a subject waiting in line to receive the church’s charitable services, to later find out that they were in possession of illegal drugs.

In the past six months, all four K2-related incidents in the campus area happened near the Renaissance Market, spanning from 22nd Street to 23rd Street on Guadalupe Street. None of the charged individuals were affiliated with UT, Pieper said.

Marijuana is less of a threat to public safety than its synthetic counterpart, K2, Pieper said.

“Typically, the use of marijuana does not cause the user to be a danger to themselves — the effects tend to ‘mellow’ you,” Pieper said. “Synthetic cannabinoids, like K2, cause very bad reactions in some people, including acts of aggression, which makes it easy to say that you are a danger to yourself because you are ready to fight some people.”

Though UT students generally steer clear of K2, others choose K2 for its lower price and exaggerated psychedelic effects, Andrew Hood, chemical engineering junior and vice president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said.

“For the same price, it is much stronger and cheaper,” Hood said. “There is more of a mind-confusion and visual-distortion effect, so I guess you would call it ‘trippier.’”

The widespread availability of drugs in West Campus demonstrates that government efforts to curtail drug use in the United States have not succeeded, Hood said.

“All these drugs are illegal, but everyone can get them,” Hood said. “That is the failed War on Drugs, and West Campus is a great example of that.”