Sober spectators: Cannabis on campus remains restricted
Fri., Dec. 17, 2021
With the dark, cold days of winter here, sports are a welcome distraction, especially for those who favor regional collegiate teams. The college football season is wrapping up with bowl games this month, and basketball season is definitely heating up.
For a lot of us, chilling with an cold beer or taking a hit off the pipe can nicely enhance our enjoyment of sports viewing, which is fine if you’re of legal age and watching in the privacy of your home.
But if you’re planning to cheer on one of our local sports teams in person, area colleges and university officials prefer that you leave the weed at home.
Current laws surrounding cannabis consumption are much more strict than alcohol. For instance, it is illegal to consume marijuana in public or in view of the public. And while you may think a more discreet mode of consumption, like edibles or a vape pen, could slip under the radar, getting caught with cannabis at a college sporting event could get you kicked out of a game at the very least, but also in larger legal trouble.
Why? Federal prohibition.
This stems from the fact that all area colleges receive federal funding and, because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, higher education institutions are required to have a zero-tolerance stance on cannabis.
“Being a fully-funded institution, any controlled substance is not allowed, even if state law allows it,” wrote Washington State University’s Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Ben Laskey in an email.
While WSU is one of the country’s leading universities in cannabis research, even establishing a Center for Cannabis Policy, Research and Outreach this year, the plant is very much unwelcome at games.
Laskey says if you are caught smoking anything on campus, including tobacco, the fine is $205. If caught possessing or using cannabis, even medical marijuana, at a WSU sporting event, the punishment is ejection from the venue and being trespassed for 24 hours, whether student or visitor. Visitors may also be cited for public use or possession by campus or local police, while students will be disciplined for violating the student code of conduct.
Gonzaga University has a similar policy, and cites compliance with the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act that prohibits the possession or use of any drug considered illegal by local, state or federal law.
The act is part of George Bush’s larger 2002 No Student Left Behind Act that supports programs to prevent the illegal use of alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and illicit drugs. Students caught possessing, using or distributing marijuana to others, on or off Gonzaga’s campus, are subject to fines, potential academic probation and suspension. That also applies to sporting events and venues.
The school’s basketball game day webpage communicates that campus security or the Spokane Police Department have the ability to remove any intoxicated person from the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Eastern Washington University is also subject to the Safe and Drug Free Schools And Communities Act. To continue to receive federal funding, EWU is required to prohibit the possession, use and distribution of cannabis and other drugs. Those who choose to use on campus are subject to arrest, confiscation and referral to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, if they are a student at the school.
Whitworth University prohibits all cannabis use and possession on school grounds, but attributes it more to moral and health reasons than government oversight.
The school’s website states “This policy reflects our conviction that possession or consumption within the Whitworth community is inappropriate for moral, educational and developmental reasons … the health risks associated with the use and abuse of these substances are numerous, including exaggerated mood swings from manic to severe depression, loss of memory and reduced cognitive ability, physical deterioration, and, in some cases, serious injury or death.”
Students caught with cannabis at Whitworth are referred to the student conduct process for follow-up while visitors to sporting events caught with pot are asked to throw it away and possibly leave the event.
In Idaho, cannabis hasn’t been legalized for recreational or medical use, either at the state or federal level. That means students don’t have any excuse if caught with it, unlike in Washington where it is legal to use in private if the user is age 21 or over. Cannabis is simply prohibited on the University of Idaho campus and the sale, use or possession of it is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
So if you were thinking of taking in local hoops action while chillin’ with a joint before tip-off, that’s a good way to get kicked out of the game and off campus. Most schools also check bags carried into the games and sometimes pockets, so you could also potentially lose your stash, as well as the opportunity to support your alma mater or favorite local team.
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