Since fall 2012, UCF has been a smoke-free campus. However, at the Wiz Khalifa concert Friday night, this rule was clearly not enforced. Not only was there cigarette smoke covering the Arena, but the performers encouraged students and guests alike to smoke marijuana. From the smell of the Arena, it seemed that many people happily obliged.
Each one of the performers that night expressed a strong affinity toward the illegal drug, and frequently asked the audience if they felt the same. When Juicy J, a rapper who was previously in the band Three 6 Mafia, performed within the crowd, he asked that someone provide him with a blunt while he was doing so.
“I want to get in the crowd and smoke a blunt with y’all,” Juicy J said. After entering the crowd he said, “Y’all smell like straight weed over here, I like that.”
Though marijuana has recently been deemed legal for recreational use in Washington state and Colorado, its use is still prohibited in Florida.
Smoke began flowing through the Arena through an over-sized bong that remained onstage during all of the performances. Juicy J encouraged the audience to smoke marijuana, take pills and drink alcohol — all of which are prohibited in the UCF Arena.
“Do you smoke weed? Do you pop pills … then you are definitely invited to a Juicy J after party,” the rapper said.
Brian Hixenbaugh, the manager of the UCF Arena, said even before UCF’s smoke-free policy, the Arena didn’t allow smoking inside. There are signs posted on all the doors in the Arena affirming this.
Hixenbaugh said he helped to coordinate the event, but it was not a UCF concert. He also stated that the Arena follows the same protocols at every concert to keep prohibited materials from coming in.
“There was security, we had ticket-takers, ushers, we have a guest service office upstairs that’s staffed … security on the floor, police presence in the building, parking — our standard rundown of staffing,” Hixenbaugh said.
With all of these security precautions, it could be assumed that no illegal activity took place. However Jordan Donaldson, a senior business management major, said he witnessed the consumption of marijuana.
“I saw a bunch of people smoking. I don’t know, you know, if it was cigarettes or whether it’s a joint,” he said. “Everybody was smoking.”
Donaldson said he saw police officers questioning individuals throughout the night, but only in the concession area of the Arena.
“They got caught doing something, that’s what it seemed like,” Donaldson said.
Gene Kruckemyer, news editor and writer for UCF News and Information, also said that precautions were taken to avoid smoking inside the Arena.
“I’m not sure what you may have heard from people who attended, but the use of marijuana is obviously illegal in Florida, so it would not be permitted if observed at the Arena,” said Kruckemyer.
Veronica Jimenez, 18, said she was offered marijuana by another concert attendee. Though she declined the offer, she said the smoke-filled Arena didn’t bother her.
When asked about the use of marijuana and its support by the performers, Hixenbaugh said, “That is part of [Khalifa’s] theme, if you will.”
On multiple occasions during Khalifa’s performance, he was joined onstage by a dancing lighter and a dancing joint. At one point, Khalifa took the opportunity to hug the marijuana cigarette. He made multiple marijuana references in both his music and his musings to the crowd.
“I rolled up about 75 joints and smoked all that KK [marijuana] to the face,” Khalifa said. The audience roared with approval.
Hixenbaugh said that, like most concerts, the UCF Police Department was hired to provide protection for the event. Additionally, Hixenbaugh said there were Arena personnel positioned both inside and outside the arena, along with CSC, a security company commissioned to check bags and people before they entered the Arena. These individuals were brought in primarily to keep prohibited items outside of the Arena.
Despite multiple attempts for an interview, the UCF Police Department did not comment on the event.
Before entering the Arena, attendees’ bags were searched and their bodies patted down in an effort to confiscate prohibited items.
Hixenbaugh said prohibited items include outside food and beverages, as the Arena has exclusive concession, bottles, cans, coolers, alcohol, weapons, unofficial noise-makers and banners.
Attendees were allowed to bring in packs of cigarettes, which were checked by CSC personnel, even though there is no longer a smoking area within the Arena.
“We did used to have a smoking deck when UCF was not a smoke-free campus that we have since eliminated,” Hixenbaugh said.
Khalifa asked the audience,“Ya’ll want to smoke with me tonight?” Attendees held up their lighters in approval for the rapper.
However, Hixenbaugh, who said he was present during the concert, said, “It was really just business as usual as far as enforcement of the rules, smoking specifically.”
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