They may have voted to legalize, but marijuana restrictions remain for students
In November, Washington and Colorado voted to allow adults over 21 to possess and use small amounts of marijuana legally. But at universities, which receive federal funding, smoking pot will remain a punishable offense.
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Washington State, for instance, receives millions in federal research funds each year, which prohibits them from allowing substances illegal under federal law on campus.Skip to next paragraph
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College dormitory contracts also tend to prohibit possession of drugs, officials said. Dorms and other campus buildings also tend to be smoke-free zones, which would block the smoking of marijuana, officials said.
At Eastern Washington, there is a student-led movement to ban smoking even outside across the entire campus, Gasseling said.
In addition, NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from consuming marijuana or other illegal drugs.
With all these complications, it is reasonable to expect that some students will be confused by the new laws.
"Some type of communication is going to come out from the university to clarify this," said Angie Weiss, student lobbyist for the Associated Students of the University of Washington.
Derrick Skaug, student body vice president at Washington State, said he believes most students will understand they cannot consume marijuana on campus.
"I don't see it likely that people will be smoking marijuana while walking around campus," Skaug said. "Most people do understand that just because it is no longer banned by state law, it doesn't amount to a get-out-of-jail-free pass."
Skaug acknowledged that some students might feel they should be allowed to consume marijuana on campus if it is legal everywhere else.
"It may be something worth starting a discussion on," Skaug said. "But there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed."
Colleges in Washington already dealt with this issue in 1998 when the state approved the use of medical marijuana, which was also banned on campus, Watkins said.
Students who wanted to use marijuana for medical reasons had to live off-campus, and Washington State waived its requirement that all freshmen had to live in dorms to accommodate them, Watkins said.
Of course, pot has been illegally used on college campuses for decades, and students for decades have been getting busted for possession.
Marum said that many Washington State students who have medical marijuana cards are allowed by their residence hall advisers to consume marijuana brownies, even though the drug is banned on campus.
"People in dorms now who want to smoke, they do it," Marum said. "I do think more people will be smoking in the dorms when marijuana is legal for use."
One thing that will change: Some off-campus police departments have said they will no longer arrest or ticket students who are 21 and older and using marijuana.
Huff said University of Colorado police will no longer ticket people who are legal under state law to possess marijuana.