Colorado and Washington Universities Don’t Expect Changes to Marijuana Policies

Officials at universities in Colorado and Washington state say they do not expect to change their marijuana policies, in light of voters’ approval of laws that legalize recreational marijuana in those two states.

“If someone thinks they are going to walk around campus smoking a joint, it’s not going to happen,” University of Washington spokesman Norman Arkans told USA Today. “We don’t see that it will change our policies very much. We get caught in the vice between the state law and our obligations under the federal government. While it may be legal two blocks off campus, it will be illegal under federal law, so it will be illegal on campus.”

The state measures allow personal possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for anyone at least 21 years old. They also permit marijuana to be sold and taxed at state-licensed stores. Both states prohibit public use of marijuana.

Marijuana is still considered illegal under federal law. The article notes universities do not want to risk losing federal research funding or student financial aid. Under the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, universities will be at risk of losing federal funds if they knowingly and willingly allow illegal substance use on their campuses.

“Now the question is, ‘Is that a federal definition or a state definition of illegal?’” asked Bronson Hilliard, spokesman for the University of Colorado-Boulder. “We are already sorting through it now, but it’s complex and it’s going to take time.”

University of Denver spokeswoman Kim DeVigil told the newspaper, “We are a smoke-free campus, so regardless you can’t smoke in dorms, buildings or any grounds. We will comply with state, local and federal laws.”

2 Responses to Colorado and Washington Universities Don’t Expect Changes to Marijuana Policies

  1. Mary Lynn Mathre | November 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    What the Universities of CO and WA don’t seem to realize is that cannabis can be consumed in numerous ways other than smoking. A greater concern with their policies is that they don’t address the need of patients to have access to this medicine for those patients who need cannabis as medicine. Some of these patients may be university students, faculty or staff. Are the medical staff of both university systems not allowed to treat their patients by recommending cannabis if they believe it will be helpful based on science and patient response? Many patients in both WA and CO will be using cannabis and it is imperative that health care professionals understand the new discovery of the endogenous cannabinoid system and how cannabis can be used to maintain and/or boost this important system when necessary. It’s time for health care professionals to understand the value of cannabis as medicine and start advocating for better access and educating the legislators as well as the university administrators about the medical efficacy of cannabis. A great place for physicians to start getting educated is to take the CME accredited courses on the topic. Patients Out of Time has a direct link to the UCSF Online CME program featuring video presentations from past national clinical cannabis conferences co-sponsored by Patients Out of Time and the UCSF School of Medicine. These can be found at

  2. Grainne Kenny | November 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    The high consumption of marijuana in those States is clearly linked to the Medical Marijuana scam existing there. The leader of NORMAL is on record as stating “We will use Medical Marijuana as a red herring to have it legalised”. Billionaire Peter Lewis, who has invested heavily in the ‘YES’ vote will not succeed in challenging the Federal Government. What a shame that these dollars were not invested in jobs for the rising figures of unemployed. Well done to the Universities for telling it as it is. No to drugs of any kind.

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