Cannabis On Campus: A Sticky Issue
Last November’s elections brought about good news for pro-pot advocates and individuals alike throughout the country. But legalization in California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada did raise some questions about allowing cannabis on campus. Despite new marijuana legalization laws which have been enacted in Montana, Florida, Arkansas, and North Dakota, we’re still waiting to see what changes President-elect Trump will be making to his cabinet, and how these are going to affect how these laws are going to be implemented, particularly on campuses across the country.
If you’re a student above 21 that attends a college in one of the 28 states or DC which has legalized cannabis, it’s important for you to understand the limitations of cannabis laws on your campus.
College students face a conflict with citizen’s rights whenever they are in a campus or a campus-sanctioned area. While cannabis is legal on a state level, it’s still illegal federally and campuses need to maintain a ban on the drug because they still receive federal funding. Schools which are funded by the federal government still need to adhere to regulations like the Communities Act, Drug Free Workplace Act, and Drug Free Schools.
Marijuana use among college students is at an all-time high, trumping cigarettes, booze, and dangerous drugs. It’s safe to say that college students have chosen pot as a replacement to other drugs which were popular years ago. This isn’t surprising, considering that cannabis has been proven to fight stress, improve creativity, promote better sleep, and improve interactions among peers and romantic relationships. Even more importantly, pot is a much safer choice than alcohol and doesn’t give you any of those nasty hangovers - students can go to class the next day perfectly fine (unless you’ve had 5 edibles…).
US colleges still need to comply with federal rules although there are a number of national organizations that are fighting to change this. Students who are caught with cannabis on campus can face serious consequences from expulsions to criminal penalties. This just isn’t fair for the students who are also medical marijuana patients - it’s downright discriminatory. Students who use medications while on campus can lose their rightful access to residential communities and can even face complete prohibition of their medication while at school.
For patients and advocates of medical marijuana, these rules are unfair to both faculty and students who need the medications to treat their illnesses. Some don’t believe that the government would completely remove these colleges from funding if they allow medical marijuana on campus. On the other hand, dangerous and addictive drugs like Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin can still easily make their way to campuses and into the hands of unsuspecting students. Why then should it be difficult for students to have access to medical marijuana? What’s even more disturbing is that some schools benefit from selling booze on campus during events. Plus it isn’t uncommon for some schools to own bars on campus.
With more university students using pot and looking for ways to get involved in the marijuana community, it’s good to know there are still opportunities for them to contribute on a national level as well as within their local community to push for policy reform. More states are continuing to push for legalization next year, so students still have a chance to get involved right now. College chapters of advocacy organizations can help college students get more involved in policy reform while reducing penalties for using marijuana on campus. The unique benefit of college chapters is that have the ability to positively impact communities around the nation as well as the world, because college students only live in a single location temporarily.
Look for these organizations that are working to get students involved on cannabis policy on campus:
NORML (National Organization For The Reform Of Marijuana Laws)
ASA (Americans for Safe Access)
SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy)
MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies)
There’s no doubt that everyone loves a good toke, especially college students. But we need to confront the conflicting reality that students face being both citizens and students in colleges that limit their rights just because they are enrolled in their campus.
What are your experiences with cannabis on campus? Share with us in the comments below!