With April marking National Alcohol Awareness Month, students across the country are encouraging their universities to authorize the use of marijuana as a safer alternative, rather than permitting students to choose the legal and most common party substance, alcohol.

A nationwide day of action was organized on April 1, by Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, also known as SAFER, in order to coincide with the start of Alcohol Awareness Month. Believed to have been a joke at first, many were convinced otherwise when 80 college campuses became involved in this campaign to promote marijuana as a safer option.

A national attempt is well on its way in order to urge universities to allow the use of marijuana, instead of alcohol, as a less harmful substance option.

As California is currently dealing with its own issues involving the legalization of marijuana, the message SAFER is sending around the country is receiving mixed reactions from students at Cal State Fullerton.

“I agree with their mission in trying to promote the facts and educating the public about the uses of marijuana as a safer alternative,â€Â said 21-year-old criminal justice major Noel Gutierrez. “I’m just unsure on whether it should be allowed on campuses yet.â€Â

SAFER, headquartered in Denver, is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 that is dedicated to providing education about the damage caused by the two most popular recreational drugs: alcohol and marijuana. Their mission is to inform the public that marijuana causes less damage than alcohol does. According to the group’s website, SAFER envisions a society where laws no longer “driveâ€Â people to use alcohol as a substitute for the less harmful option, marijuana.

“I personally do not support the idea of advertising marijuana as a safer choice,â€Â English major Angel Zehnder. Zehnder, 20, also admits that she hasn’t used marijuana and believes that SAFER’s goal for a national agreement for marijuana as a safer alternative doesn’t sound very harmless.

“They’re trying to be safe about it but I’m just looking at it through a legal aspect,â€Â said Zehnder. “Marijuana is still illegal, and promoting it now is just too soon for college campuses all over California.â€Â

Addressing the legalization of marijuana is nothing new to the state of California. Although marijuana dispensaries are currently scattered throughout various locations in both Orange County and Los Angeles County, the LA City Council voted in favor of an ordinance that would be taking a step back from the information that SAFER is trying to disseminate to communities nationwide. Friday April 19, it was announced that hundreds of local medical marijuana dispensaries are to be closed throughout Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California, beginning in June.

As general elections are coming up in November, a ballot initiative is to be considered for whether marijuana should be legal, taxed and regulated in the state of California.

SAFER’s Campus Initiative 2010 Nationwide Day of Action received a great deal of coverage from the media, yet its mission to educate the public about opting for marijuana as a safer alternative has yet to fully garner the attention of many Californians.

“At this point, it doesn’t seem like this issue is going to fade any time soon,â€Â Gutierrez said. “The legalization of marijuana brings so much controversy, and considering it will be on the ballot in November, this just might be perfect timing for SAFER to reach out to the state of California.â€Â

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