CA: Despite The Legalization Of Marijuana, LMU’s Policy Remains The Same

Photo Credit: Jason Munoz

When Californian voters passed Proposition 64 on Nov. 8, 2016 by a margin of about 56 to 44 percent, California became the fifth state, along with Washington, D.C., in the United States to have approved legalized recreational marijuana. From Jan. 1, 2018 Californians were able to legally purchase recreational marijuana in stores and dispensaries.

The implementation of the change to California law was anticipated since the November 2016 election. While twenty-eight states have legalized some form of medical marijuana, the drug remains illegal under U.S. federal law, therefore making the use of cannabis in any form still prohibited on LMU’s campus.

“While California law has changed,” said Jeanne Ortiz, the dean of students and the vice president for student affairs, “it is essential for students to understand that there is no change in University policy regarding marijuana. The University has to comply with federal laws related to what has been defined in the statutes as illicit drugs.”

The Federal Controlled Substances Act criminalizes possession and distribution of controlled substances, including marijuana. Thus, marijuana in any form is prohibited on all University property, leased buildings, housing, parking lots and at all University events, according to Ortiz.

While California has changed its law on the use of cannabis, colleges have their own

drug policies under which the possession or use of illegal drugs such as marijuana could result in disciplinary action ranging anywhere from having to attend treatment programs to being dismissed from the academic institution.

Institutions under the University of California system, California State University system, as well as community and private colleges do not allow marijuana on university grounds, according to The Sacramento Bee.

“Marijuana, in all of its forms, remains prohibited on LMU’s campus,” said John Orozco, the director of Judicial Affairs. “[It will remain this way] as long as it continues to be a Schedule I drug federally. As a university that receives federal funding in various forms, LMU is obligated to defer to federal law, such as the Drug Free Schools Act.”

As mentioned in a previous Loyolan article, with certain members of the current Trump administration siding against legalizing recreational marijuana, the debate of its legality under U.S. federal law continues. In April 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made statements strongly against the use of marijuana and has rescinded the Obama era guidelines, known as the Cole memo, which eased federal regulation of marijuana, according to CNBC.

This decision could cause a greater struggle for those in the cannabis industry, who are already heavily reliant on cash and detached from banks. While a more regulated market would theoretically encourage financial institutions to bank cannabis businesses, Sessions’ decision on Jan. 4 freezes bank activities for such businesses, as reported by CNBC.