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Can Colleges Ban Weed On Campus In States With Legal Marijuana?

Despite its legality, it appears federal law is still restricting those with MMJ cards.

Tim Kohut

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Are Students Who Use Cannabis Putting College Funding at Risk?

Despite medicinal cannabis being legalized in 29 states (and counting), we are still, unfortunately, ways away from complete normalcy. This includes college campuses in weed-legal states. There, it’s still up for debate whether or not a once-illicit drug has a place on campus for both social and medicinal use. So without further ado, let’s delve into the question: can colleges ban weed on campus in states with legal marijuana?

College Cannabis

So can colleges ban weed on campus in states with legal marijuana? It’s somewhat reasonable for college campuses to disallow recreational cannabis, especially considering the typical age to purchase it is 21. However, they should, unequivocally permit medicinal cannabis.

However, this has not always been the case.

Most college universities have stringent policies regarding the usage of the plant, even if recommended by doctors.

Take America University, for example, who outlines explicitly, their policy against medical marijuana in their school code of conduct.

The code of conduct clearly forbid the following actions:

  • To use or possess any illegal drug (including medical marijuana) or drug paraphernalia in the residence halls.
  • Selling, manufacturing, or distributing any illegal drug (including medical marijuana) or drug paraphernalia in the residence halls.
  • To knowingly and voluntarily be in the presence of any illegal drug (including medical marijuana) or drug paraphernalia in the residence halls.

However, American University is far from the only school with such strict policies.

Let’s look at one instance back in 2012 at the University of Maine. Robyn Smith, a 25-year-old University of Maine junior and Army veteran, learned that his doctor-recommended cannabis was not allowed in their school. Stephen Nelson, who oversaw student misconduct at the University of Southern Maine, cited the potential loss of federal funding for the stringent policy.

“It’s not a question of right or wrong, ethical or not ethical, any of that,” said Nelson.  “Right now, we just can’t run the risk of losing federal dollars.”

So, essentially, it all goes back to the pesky federal policy surrounding cannabis. Go figure.

Final Hit: Can Colleges Ban Weed On Campus In States With Legal Marijuana?

It doesn’t look like schools will be allowing medical marijuana on campuses anytime soon.

However, there have been some steps to at least decriminalize the usage in college.

For example, on Wednesday morning, The Arizona Supreme Court announced that it is set to review a lower court’s ruling that Arizona colleges and universities can disallow medical marijuana on campuses under their own code of conduct policies, but the state Legislature can’t make it a crime.

In Arizona, it has been legal since 2010 for medical cardholders to possess small amounts of cannabis, as long as it wasn’t in schools, prisons or school buses. In 2012, the Legislature attempted to add universities to the list. But the claim was denied by The Arizona Supreme Court.

So basically, schools cannot file legal action against cardholders with medical marijuana. But can still forbid it under their own school terms. This would likely lead to in-house punishments such as academic probation or suspension. While this is certainly still a burden for those with medical marijuana permits, it is still somewhat a step in the right direction.

Hopefully, as time moves forward, more campuses adopt a less-stringent approach to something that slowly but surely becoming an acceptable part of society. At this point, it’s up to the federal government to make things right.

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