University could lose federal funding if drug use is permitted
The UA may have to keep the bongs at bay, as a new bill would make medical marijuana on campus illegal, even if it is allowed in the state.
The university already bans medical marijuana on campus in order to receive federal funding under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989. House Bill 2349 would make it illegal for the ban not to exist.
Institutions of higher education cannot receive funds or financial assistance under any federal program unless there is a ban on use of illicit drugs and abuse of alcohol on campus, according to the UA drug free statement.
While this is something the UA is already doing, there could be changes in how the drug ban is enforced, said Joe Bermudez, a crime prevention officer with the University of Arizona Police Department.
Bermudez said he is unsure if students with medical marijuana cards would face criminal charges, as it would depend on the exact wording of the law.
Students found with medical marijuana on campus will be instructed to dispose of it and the incident will result in a Code of Conduct violation. Residence Life and the Dean of Students Office would deal with the student, Bermudez said.
If someone is caught with marijuana on campus without a medical marijuana card, he or she will be arrested for possession and could face criminal charges, Bermudez added.
Max Ambrose, a political science senior, was prescribed a medical marijuana card to help with his migraines. He has had the card for a month and says he uses marijuana frequently during the week. Because he lives off campus, the drug ban does not pose an issue for him.
“If you’re a student living on campus it could be a problem, because you have nowhere to keep it legally,” Ambrose said. “I’m just glad I’m not someone who has to deal with that problem.”
Ted Vogt, a state representative from Legislative District 30, voted against the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and supports the bill to ban medical marijuana on college campuses. Although he feels the bill will not have much of an impact with drug bans in place, it would help ensure that federal funding is not taken away.
“We want to make sure our laws are tailored to narrowly focus on the issue,” Vogt said. “There may be a campus out there that decides ‘to heck with the money, we want to have medical marijuana on our campus.’”
The bill has not gone to the floor yet, as it was recently changed to exclude private campuses.
“I personally think marijuana isn’t a big deal. It really does help when you do have problems, especially when you have your medical license,” said Jessica Olson, a psychology sophomore, who was prescribed a medical marijuana card to help treat depression and an eating disorder.
“I do see why people don’t want it on campus, but if you do need it I feel like it’s just like any other drug,” Olson said. “Like Ritalin, if you need it you should be able to access it.”