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.