STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - Penn State Police say marijuana is the number one illegal drug used on campus. They say it's almost all of the drug arrests they make. Here's a breakdown of the last three years: In 2010, they arrested 189. Then it went up to 274 in 2011. As of
November of 2012, it was at 140. But that didn't take into account pending arrests.
WTAJ News found that if pot were to be legalized, it could actually free up local police to handle other cases.
Penn State Police Chief Tyrone Parham doesn't think pot should be legal. He says as far as on-campus drug use goes, it's almost always for pot.
"Only a handful of others are actually not marijuana, every now and then we might have some sort of illegal pill... But the majority, like 99% is marijuana."
Penn State Junior Alexander Brillman doesn't smoke pot, but knows a lot that do. He says cops are too harsh on pot smokers and thinks they should be worrying about violent criminals.
"I think it's fairly prevalent around here. There's really nothing else to do in Happy Valley other than drink... I don't think a police officer when they graduate from training school are really dreaming of knocking on some freshman's floor and saying ok, you're on probation now for the
next year. That's not really protecting and serving I don't think. So I don't think they get any true sense of justice out of it or I would be surprised if they did, and a little worried."
Chief Parham says that most his marijuana calls stem from the residence halls on campus. Smoking of any kind isn't allowed isn't allowed in the dorms. So if pot were to be legalized, it still wouldn't be allowed there. However Parham does acknowledge that if pot were to be made legal, it would free up a lot of time for area police to focus on other cases, including his officers.
"...It may free up some time, particularly even with ours now, for example in the residence halls, sometime s when they don't give consent or their not home we end up having to get a search warrant. It does take up some time to call up a Magisterial District Judge, to get a consent."
Parham adds that a lot of court time, education and prevention programs could be eliminated or cut down if pot were legal.
Brillman says life in Happy Valley wouldn't change much if it gets legalized, because most students don't treat it like it's illegal now.
"I don't think much would change, maybe all the fast food around here would get a little more business but other than that, I think it would be business as usual..."
Colorado and Washington both legalized marijuana for recreational use earlier this year.