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Medical Marijuana A No-Go For Massachusetts College Students Living On Campus

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Medical marijuana may be legal in Massachusetts, but students with a prescription will be prohibited from using or storing it on their college campuses. Higher education institutions including Harvard University, University of Massachusetts Boston, Curry College and Bridgewater State University said they are all banning medical marijuana from their campuses in order to comply with federal regulations that classify marijuana, medical or not, as an illegal narcotic.

Officials from these institutions have all stated that federal funding, including funding for student financial aid, could be at risk if they made an exemption in their student health codes to allow for prescription use marijuana. Students at Bridgewater State University have called their health services department in the past year asking questions about personal use of medical marijuana prescriptions on-campus. "We've had some inquiries about it," said Police Chief David Tillinghast, who added that making an exemption would be a risky proposition.

According to Bridgewater State University's Police Department's official policies listed online, the university must follow the Federal Controlled Substances Act, the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug Free Workplace Act. The policy adds that anyone in possession of medical marijuana would be cited under state statutes or federally prosecuted and face university disciplinary action. Additionally, the policy states that possession of the drug on-campus may have an adverse impact on future employment and limit a student's ability to obtain federal financial aid.

In Quincy, Eastern Nazarene College said that it is still navigating the waters on medical marijuana use on its campus and has yet to form an official policy. "As this is a new issue here in Massachusetts, we have reached out to similar institutions in other parts of the country for insight into how they have addressed this issue," said Jeffrey Kirksey, Vice President of Student Development and Retention.

While colleges like Eastern Nazarene have reached out to other institutions for guidance, Katy Abel, a commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, said that colleges in Massachusetts have not consulted her department to ask if an exemption for medical marijuana would result in a loss of federal funding. "The campuses would only be speculating... Campuses have not sought counsel or legal opinion from us on this matter," she wrote in an email.

No one at the U.S. Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Department of Education, could say whether a school would lose federal funding if it allowed medical marijuana on-campus. Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), a Washington D.C.-based non-profit released a report in 2012 which states that "the Department of Education has never denied federal funds to any IHE as a result of policy change" and that the passage of more than 100 medical amnesty policies across the nation's universities supports this notion.

"Given what we know, the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act does not require Harvard to disallow medical marijuana. Harvard has made a medical decision on behalf of its students. This decision should be made between a student and a doctor," said Executive Director of the non-profit Betty Aldworth about Harvard's ban on medical marijuana. A 2012 National Public Radio report by Susan Sharon cited one student's decision to drop out of the University of Maine and take online courses after he was told he could not use his doctor prescribed medical marijuana to treat an anxiety and joint disorder he developed after serving in the Army in Afghanistan for 15 months.

A professor and a drug policy expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, Mark Kleiman said he doubts that federal funding at universities is at risk: "I don't see any prospect that the university federal funding would be damaged if they made an exemption for students citing medical marijuana." He added, "I think its unlikely that there isn't cannabis smoking going on. I'm not sure this policy had any impact on the world." When asked why the universities are banning medical marijuana from their campuses, he said, "Bureaucrats do what bureaucrats do. The obvious answer when you're asked a question is 'no.'"


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Enterprisenews.com
Author: Natalie Ornell
Contact: Contact Us
Website: [URL="http://www.enterprisenews.com/article/20140804/NEWS/140809115/12151/NEWS]Medical Marijuana A No-Go For Massachusetts College Students Living On Campus[/URL]
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