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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Cannabis on campus: why you should leave bud off your back-to-school list

Local schools still unwelcoming to adults with pot

Though cannabis is legal for adults in Washington, area colleges and universities still prohibit it on campus.   (Istockphoto)
Though cannabis is legal for adults in Washington, area colleges and universities still prohibit it on campus. (Istockphoto)
Terry Bain EVERCANNABIS Correspondent
It’s time once again for the grass-filled quads of academia to be swarmed by scholars from near and far, and like many intellectuals of the past, the incoming student body likely has on its mind one of the great quandaries of our generation: CAN WE SMOKE WEED ON CAMPUS?! The answer, unfortunately, is still no. Whitworth University, Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, Washington State University EWU, Community Colleges of Spokane, there is not a single local institution of higher learning that allows the recreational use of cannabis on campus, even by adults. Indeed, since the legal age limit for cannabis use in Washington State is 21, not 18, a great number of students aren’t able to legally purchase, possess, or use herbal offerings anyway. But for those 21 and over who chose to imbibe, make sure you are doing so off campus. Yes, there is certainly a possibility you just might encounter cannabis on campus anyway, much as you might also encounter alcohol. Students seeking out controlled substances may not always care about following the rules or whether pot or booze is more or less legal. This doesn’t mean that campus authorities treat cannabis use exactly the same way as they do alcohol, however. Since cannabis possession and use is still prohibited at a federal level, and most schools rely significantly on public federal funds, you may find campus enforcement more stringent for marijuana. Although general attitudes about cannabis use in Washington are a little more relaxed than they have been in the past, in part due to local law and in part due to plain common sense, that doesn’t mean that institutional attitudes have evolved significantly. Since marijuana has been legal in Washington for just over five years, many local colleges and universities have taken pro-active measures to be sure students understand the dos and don’ts regarding the use of cannabis. One of the best examples of this is a brochure published by the University of Washington, which explicitly tells readers that “Marijuana – including medical marijuana – use by UW students, employees, or the general public is not allowed anywhere on the UW campus, including in residence halls.” Most state schools are following suit. Eastern uses this same exact language on their “Marijuana and You” information page. These schools also don’t seem to make any distinctions between medical and recreational marijuana, since again, it’s all still illegal. Private schools may be slightly more forgiving when it comes to medical uses of cannabis… but not by much. Whitworth’s student handbook, for instance, states that “In compliance with federal law, medical marijuana is not allowed on Whitworth’s property. Exceptions may be considered by educational support services.” So if you do have a prescription for cannabis, do not simply assume that it will be allowed on campus because your doctor said it was okay; you’ll also need to be sure the proper people at the school confirm that it’s OK there too. Education experts don’t anticipate the local rules changing anytime soon either due to no school wanting to jeopardize their federal education support. However, a case in Arizona could have some impact here. The state Supreme Court recently concluded that Arizona law enforcement can’t prosecute college students using medical marijuana on campus. As long as the student is in possession of their medical marijuana card, arrests can’t me made for cannabis use or possession. The law has yet to be tested whether this could actually mean a loss of federal funds for Arizona schools, but many institutions – and students – should watch closely.
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