Medical marijuana and your college campus

One by one, states in the union are passing laws that support the usage of medical marijuana for people suffering debilitating medical conditions. Two states, Colorado, and now Washington, have even legalized the recreational usage of marijuana for adults aged 21 and older.

As more states approve of medical marijuana, it's time to learn if the law applies to you. (Credit: CNNMoney/Shutterstock)

As more states approve of medical marijuana, it’s time to learn if the law applies to you. (Credit: CNNMoney/Shutterstock)

However, because marijuana remains a Schedule 1 substance, your university (even in Colorado or Washington state) can ban possession of the drug on campus. Here’s what you need to know about medical marijuana and your college campus.

The facts

Washington state is the most recent one to support the legalization of non-medical marijuana. There have been attempts made since the ‘70s to decriminalize the drug, also known as cannabis, and finally supporters are making an impact. California became the first state to legalize medical use and possession in 1996, and since then 22 other states and Washington D.C. have jumped on board. A look at the ProCon.org website on Medical Marijuana will give specific details about your state’s (or the state you’re attending school in) laws.

Even if you live in a state that has legalized medical marijuana usage, you need to be aware of the laws that surround you as a college student.

So how does this affect me?

If you’re staying on campus in one of the states that has legalized medical marijuana usage (or recreational usage for that matter), you’re still subject to the campus laws regarding substances such as cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana.

Colorado College recently added a FAQ page on Amendment 64 — the amendment that legalized the use and regulation of marijuana in Colorado — for students attending their college. “Marijuana use is illegal under federal law and permitting its use at Colorado College would violate the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. If Colorado College fails to comply with that act, it could become ineligible for federal funding and financial aid programs for its students.” According to the document, students do not have a right to use or possess marijuana on campus because the college has the ability to set standards to keep their campus safe — much like the use and possession of guns, as mentioned on the FAQ page.

Cities such as Ann Arbor, Michigan, have become very lax with their laws concerning controlling, possessing or selling marijuana; but these laws don’t hold up on the University of Michigan campus so you need to be familiar with specific campus laws (which, as in the case of Colorado College, still consider marijuana an illegal substance).

For more specific rules on your college campus, even if you’re living in off-campus housing, look to your school’s website for information.

Marijuana use and college students

Being a college student is about discovering who you are, figuring out how you learn, and deciding what you want from your future.

An extensive study done on 1,200 college freshmen over a 10-year period, “found that substance use, ‘especially marijuana use,’ contributed to ‘college students skipping more classes, spending less time studying, earning lower grades, dropping out of college, and being unemployed after college.’” David Schick, in his June 7, 2013, post “Student: Marijuana use increases risk of academic problems,” for USA Today, explains the results of the study completed by The University of Maryland School of Health that connected marijuana use with academic retention and performance. Not only is heavy usage a problem for college students, but the offense of a drug-related charge on your record will leave you ineligible for federal aid, loans or work study, which can lead students to drop out. 

For more information regarding the trending issue of medical marijuana, head on over to Claire Moore’s (Cengage Brain and Questia contributor) recently posted article “Medical marijuana approval on the rise,” and leave your comments below.

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