The founder of the Wesleyan University chapter of a student drug reform group is one of four students arrested in connection with MDMA, or Molly, overdoses that sent 11 classmates to the hospital over the weekend.
Andrew Olson, 20, of Atascadero, California, is the founder and co-president of the Wesleyan chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy declined to comment on the criminal investigation, but said Olson founded the local chapter in 2013.
A statement on the organization’s Web site says it “mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against counterproductive Drug War policies, particularly those that directly harm students and youth.”
Eleven Wesleyan students were hospitalized on Sunday, including two in critical condition, after taking the drug known as Molly at a party at a house known as “the Eclectic” on High Street, and police began investigating.
On Tuesday, police arrested four students, including Olson, who was charged with two counts of possession of hallucinogen and sale of hallucinogen on one warrant and possession of less than half-an-ounce of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia on the second.
“Students for Sensible Drug Policy neither condones nor condemns drug use; we acknowledge that people use drugs regardless of prohibition and that drugs are best managed through public health measures and regulatory frameworks, not the criminal justice system,” Betty Aldworth, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said in a statement. ‘SSDP was founded in part to help protect people, especially young people, minimize the harm from drugs. We are saddened every time someone is injured in their use of drugs. We express to the injured students our best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery, and a resumption of their studies and their privacy.
“The fact is that prohibition of drugs, and laws against health-based approaches that could make drug use less dangerous, has created a situation where a black market is responsible for producing drugs of unknown composition, purity, and potency. Rather than demonize otherwise successful young people for engaging in activities that happen on campuses across the world every weekend, we should all be appalled that young people's lives have once again been endangered by failed laws that inevitably lead to overdose and that other young people's lives will be disrupted as they get dragged into the criminal justice system. At Wesleyan, one in 13 students was disciplined for a drug violation in 2013, proving that this scenario will play out again and again until we end drug prohibition and replace it with laws based on justice, compassion, evidence, and common sense.”
Olson was released on bond and is due in court on March 3.
He has been suspended from the university, officials from Wesleyan said on Wednesday.