Cannabis laws continue to create all sorts of challenges, especially as more states legalize recreational and medical cannabis while the federal government maintains it as a Schedule 1 illegal substance.
State laws regarding purchasing and growing weed can be tricky, and marijuana in the workplace is a unique challenge for many employers. Even classrooms, both high school and college, are faced with new challenges as their federal and state governments continue to have conflicting views on marijuana consumption on school grounds.
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Marijuana on college campuses has a long illegal history. Think back to the late 1960s and one of the first images that will likely pop into your head is a group of long haired free-loving college students smoking joints on some academic lawn holding a peace or protest sign. Today, however, there is less peace and love in regards to marijuana policy on college campuses. Instead, there seem to be strict policies led by fear.
Most colleges, even those in states where marijuana is legal on medical and recreational levels, completely ban the possession and use of marijuana on college campuses. The main reason for this collegiate prohibition is because there is a great deal of federal money tied into most collegiate-level universities. “Colleges and universities who accept these federal funds must remain compliant with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which means that use and/or possession of cannabis, in any form, or possession of any paraphernalia, will not be tolerated on campus,” according to Campus And Drug Prevention, a DEA website.
Not all colleges get large sums of money directly from the government, but federal funding is tied into all sorts of programs, grants and loans. This may have even privately run institutions thinking twice before making their marijuana policies more lenient. “I think schools are just worried about rocking the boat and jeopardizing that funding,” Robert Mikos, professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School, told Forbes.
The article went further to show the unfortunate outcome for medical marijuana users this reality has forced. “It puts [universities] in this awful position of, ‘I’m breaking the law unless I yank the medicine out of the hands of these ill students,’” said Peter Grinspoon, who is a physician and a board member at Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. “It also shows how federal illegality puts these institutions that want to do the best for their students in these impossible positions.”
Some students are fighting back against these anti-medical marijuana rules at Universities. “In states where medical marijuana is legal, students disciplined for using it are taking their schools to court,” according to USA Today. Students site discrimination in their lawsuits. These issues will likely only continue to arise as the nation grows more accepting of marijuana use and if the government maintains its Schedule 1 status of the drug.
There is even legislation and conversation about cannabis in high school classrooms in states where marijuana is legal. Rhode Island is the most recent state to legalize recreational marijuana. This legalization may have loosened marijuana laws, but it also prompted a demand for policy when it comes to administering medical marijuana in schools. “School districts in Rhode Island must develop protocols to administer medical marijuana to students with a demonstrated medical condition under a new state regulation,” according to the Providence Journal.
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Colorado also allows medical marijuana to be administered by school nurses, and has even passed legislation that details how and when this can occur. While there are many rules and stipulations, this policy is actually progressive, seeing how many states completely ban the use of medical marijuana in schools. “The act provides school personnel protection from criminal prosecution if he or she possesses and administers medical marijuana to a student at school,” according to a summary of the bill from the Colored General Assembly.
Laws like these show progress, but the progress has been slow as most educational bodies will continue to fear the fallout that accompanies going against federal policy. As with many other state laws, those concerning cannabis and the classroom are likely to sit in purgatory while awaiting the federal government to make its next move on marijuana.