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Why Are Universities in Legal States Banning Weed?

1 minute Read

Even in states where weed is legal, it still might be banned on college campuses.

Throughout states like California, Washington, and Oregon, universities have upheld zero tolerance policies for students who possess or use cannabis products on campus. While some schools like the University of Oregon allow students to do as they please off-campus, others aim to entirely forbid that their students consume or possess weed in general.

Moreover, even if a student has a medical marijuana card, which in most places is obtainable for anyone over 18 (adult use cannabis is legal for anyone over 21), campuses make no distinction.

Especially in green states, these rules against both legalized adult use and medical cannabis might seem a bit draconian. However, many of these schools aim to abide by federal law, under which all possession and consumption of cannabis, no matter whether it’s medical or recreational, is deemed illegal.

If a school were to permit the use of possession of cannabis on campus, they might risk their federal funding — similarly, this is the reason many federally funded banks refuse to work with businesses that touch the cannabis plant, forcing the cannabis industry to work almost entirely in cash.

That said, regardless of the conflict with federal law, there’s still some debate as to whether state law, under which cannabis is legal, should apply on campus. In June, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked the state Supreme Court to review an appeal that would have gone against banning medical marijuana on college campuses (since medical marijuana in Arizona is legal).

In response to Brnovich’s anti-marijuana stance, defense attorney Tom Dean point to the fact that no colleges so far have had their federal funding pulled on account of following state cannabis laws.

If the Arizona case goes to a higher court, it could set a precedent for cannabis-on-campus policies in several other places.

Of course, the entire argument either for or against consumption and possession of cannabis on university property is at least partially theoretical. It might be nearly impossible to find a college campus where students aren’t smoking weed, not to mention experimenting with other drugs, be it alcohol, adderall, or psychedelics.

The question at hand ignores the basic reality of what’s happening anyways. To try and prevent legal adults from at the very least possessing medical marijuana on campus — whether they’re college freshmen or 30-year-old grad students — is entirely unrealistic.

Why Are Universities in Legal States Banning Weed?