Universities across Michigan may soon face trouble enforcing a newly passed proposal which legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Proposal 1, which passed in Michigan in the Nov. 4 election, legalized the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana with a valid prescription.
Carl Holm, director of Housing and Residence Life, said NMU has not reached a decision on any campus policy towards medical marijuana.
“I haven’t given it any thought,” he said. “I don’t know how often we will deal with this. When I think of people who are (getting medical marijuana), I don’t think of college-age students.”
NMU Public Safety Sgt. Ken Love said he hasn’t been given any information on how medicinal marijuana would be treated on campus.
One possibility that Holm said could be instituted if the issue was raised is to allow students who qualify for medical marijuana to be given an exemption from NMU’s mandatory on-campus housing rule.
The NMU student handbook is vague on the subject of medical marijuana.
The section of the handbook dealing with drugs reads: “No students shall possess, use, distribute, sell or manufacture illegal drugs, or other controlled substances, in any building or on any property owned or controlled by the University, except as permitted by law.”
It is unclear whether medical marijuana would fall under this definition because, while legalized by the state of Michigan, marijuana remains a controlled substance by federal standards.
Other campuses across the country have come to widely varying conclusions on the legality of medicinal marijuana on campus.
Last year, a Colorado State student who was caught possessing a small amount of medical marijuana had university sanctions against him dropped after hiring a lawyer to defend himself. The student initially faced suspension from the school and mandatory drug rehab classes.
The University of California-Bakersfield, on the other hand, has decided that state medical marijuana rules do not apply to universities. The argument is that the universities receive federal funding and are therefore subject to federal laws regarding the legality of medical marijuana.
Dan Bernath, assistant director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, called such allegations nonsense.
“Michigan law protects anyone who is on the registry with a valid medical reason to be using marijuana,” he said. “It doesn’t list any specifications about use on a college campus, and it should be enforced as such.”
The Marijuana Policy Project is a national organization which aims to decriminalize marijuana.
According to the group’s Web site, they are especially concerned with allowing patients who have been prescribed medical marijuana to use it without arrest or harassment.
Bernath also said that though school administrators may be apprehensive to make a decision on the subject, he feels the proper solution is obvious.
“There is always some apprehension when a law like this is passed, and it will take time to adjust to the new law,” he said. “However, the people of Michigan have spoken overwhelmingly, and (legalization of medical marijuana) is what they want.”