Administrators at University of Washington Bothell are taking disciplinary action against a disc jockey at UWave Radio, the student-run internet radio station. His offense? Campus security alleges he smelled like marijuana during a broadcast. The incident occurred January 29, when senior communications major Justin McMahon was in the middle of Half Baked History, a show designed to reduce the stigma and fear around marijuana—irony he recognizes.
Disciplinary documents obtained by The Stranger show that school officials took the "interim step" of banning McMahon from the radio station between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., pending the outcome of a "conduct case."
It started when McMahon took a midnight broadcasting break. "I was outside on City of Bothell property, and looking in the window, I saw security making a big fuss around the radio booth," he says. He went inside to find campus security hovering around his backpack.
According to McMahon, UW Bothell security said they smelled pot and repeatedly accused him of smoking weed in the building, which he steadfastly denied. Finally, McMahon said he would answer no more questions. "I said, 'I have a radio show to do,' and I went and sat down."
A few minutes later, campus security "said that I needed to leave, and that if I didn't leave they'd call the police and have me arrested," says McMahon, who left the station at that point. Security never found any marijuana during the incident.
After voters legalized cannabis, UW administrators announced that they would continue to arrest and punish students for legal pot because the school accepts federal money.
UW Bothell spokeswoman Lisa Hall refused to comment on the event, citing "federal privacy concerns." When asked what would happen if staff accused a student of smelling like pot, she refused to comment on "hypothetical situations."
McMahon was scheduled to meet with school administrators over the pot ban, but says Katie Horowitz, the university's assistant director of residential life, walked out of that meeting when he asked to audio record it with his phone. For now, he is off the air and still hasn't received a date for any hearings related to his "conduct case."