On the heels of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s approval of revised regulations that eliminate many of the most onerous restrictions to the state’s 6-week-old medical cannabis program, officials at the state’s two largest public universities are announcing that medical cannabis will not be allowed on campus. The ban comes despite the recent approval of State Question 788, which broadly legalizes medical cannabis. University officials acknowledged the new state law, but they’ve instead opted to follow federal law on cannabis, citing workplace and other requirements for federal funding.
Universities Create A New Obstacle For Medical Cannabis Access in Oklahoma
In June, Oklahoma voters roundly rejected the state government’s prohibition-oriented policy by approving State Question 788 and broadly legalizing medical cannabis. Ever since the referendum, however, Oklahoma lawmakers and officials have tried to restrict the program voters approved, initiating a series of controversial decisions cannabis advocates in the state have been fighting to overturn.
Those efforts found success on Tuesday when Governor Fallin approved and signed revised rules that throw out many obstructive proposals for the implementation of SQ 788. Fallin had originally approved those amendments. But this week, she cited public opposition as cause enough to remove them. It will still be up to the legislature to craft the permanent regulatory framework for Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program.
But just as those obstacles fell, Oklahoma’s major universities put up another. Officials with both Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma said today that they won’t allow medical marijuana on their campuses.
That means students on campus, even those with a legal right to medical cannabis, will not be able to possess or consume it. The same goes for any faculty, staff, or other employee of the university. No medical cannabis will be allowed on campus, period, for any reason, at OSU and OU.
OSU, OU Say Federal Funding Requires Them To Ban Medical Cannabis
To explain the ban on medical cannabis on their campus, university officials at both institutions released a joint statement. Both cite that compliance with federal law is a requirement for receiving federal aid.
First, there’s the Federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. This act prohibits the use of illegal drugs on campus or at University-sponsored events and activities. Medical cannabis isn’t illegal under Oklahoma law. But it is illegal under federal law.
Then, there’s the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act. This act mandates that drug-free workplace policies must be in place at workplaces with certain federal contracts. And of course, there’s the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which criminalizes cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic.
Both Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma will adhere to these federal policies on marijuana rather than Oklahoma state law.
These universities aren’t the only to ban medical cannabis. And most that do cite concerns over falling out of compliance and jeopardizing federal education funding and contracts. Yet there isn’t a single instance of a college that has allowed medical cannabis on campus facing such consequences.
In fact, some universities, like Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, are openly embracing legalization and establishing research programs dedicated to studying medical cannabis.