Colleges Confront Issue of Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana laws are posing a challenge to colleges, NPR reports. Since marijuana is illegal under federal law, colleges that allow students to use medical marijuana on campus are at risk of losing federal funding, by violating the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug Free Workplace Act.

“It’s not a question of right or wrong, ethical or not ethical, any of that,” Stephen Nelson, who oversees student misconduct at the University of Southern Maine, told NPR. “Right now, we just can’t run the risk of losing federal dollars.” He noted his university receives research funding, as well as more than $60 million worth of Title 4 financial aid. In total, hundreds of millions of dollars could be withheld, he says.

Jill Creighton of the University of Colorado, Denver, who has been discussing medical marijuana with college administrators around the country, agrees that Title 4 funding is at risk. “Some student codes of conduct are much more lax about marijuana use in general, but the assumption is if we were to allow medical marijuana on our campuses, we would then be jeopardizing our Title 4 funding,” she says.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice said in a written statement, “The Department of Justice is focusing its limited resources on significant drug traffickers, not seriously ill individuals who are in compliance with applicable state medical marijuana statues.”

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