Marijuana on Campus?

Morgan Levy, Contributing Writer

Picture this: A doctor issues you a prescription to aid a medical condition that you suffer from. You use this prescription daily or perhaps only when needed. It gives you the ability to engage in your daily responsibilities and activities without interference from this illness. You are also a college student who lives on campus. What if you found out that your university strictly prohibits the use of the medication you are prescribed? Furthermore, you could get into behavioral trouble, possibly resulting in a conductive meeting if caught using this medication? One would regard this interference as rather unfair, right?  Doesn’t it seem quite invasive for a university to deprive you of a medication that is essential for your ability to thrive not only as a human but as a student?

Most people are in consensus that this interference is preposterous, however, that viewpoint begins to change when we identify and detail the prescription in this scenario. The prescription we are talking about is medical marijuana. Richard Chang eloquently describes this prohibition in his Forbes article, “Colleges Ban Medical Marijuana Use, Even In States Where It Is Legal.” Chang asserts that although 36 out of the 50 states in our nation allow those over the age of 21 to possess and use medical marijuana legally, the majority of universities still have implemented a ban on students from using cannabis products for medical purposes during their academic career.

Despite marijuana state legality, all universities still adhere to the no cannabis policies. Why is this? One reason colleges cling to this status-quo policy is because of government funding. In 1989, amendments to the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act caused schools to ban all substances. Furthermore, as a consequence of not doing so, the universities are at the risk of the government pulling the federal funding they have allocated towards a university. Obviously, universities must instill rules against illegal substances. However, where do we draw the line when it comes to substances that are legal for medical cardholders to have? 

I cannot help but blame the stigma surrounding cannabis use for this interference. Weed has an extreme recreational reputation, thus, those adhering to more traditional standards have a hard time accepting the medical proponents of the drug. It is understandable for universities to ban the recreational use of substances on campus, but the ban becomes an infringement on students when marijuana is part of their medical treatment. This is not to say that regulations cannot be in place for the use of medical marijuana on campus. For example, if a medical marijuana cardholder predominately smokes their medication, the campus can make a statute that all smoking must take place in an outdoor space.  

On page 54 of the student handbook, the administration states the following: “The use of hookah devices, synthetics (e.g. Spice, K2) and marijuana on campus or at University events are strictly prohibited.” The University is a notorious institution for trailblazing, especially in the last two years following the institution’s approach to continuing on-campus learning during the pandemic. As Bison, we explore ideas and policies that have yet to be encountered by other institutions. If the University were to amend this handbook rule to permit medical marijuana cardholders to use their medication, this would be a monumental action that other universities would be likely to implement.

Medical marijuana and colleges is a subject that is often ignored due to their unknown nature. But isn’t a crucial aspect of being a Bison is facing the fear of the unknown dead in the eye? I call on University administrators to abandon their predispositions on cannabis as a whole and readdress campus marijuana policies to account for students who are medical cardholders.  The policies currently in place are a threat to students who use marijuana as a core treatment in their medical plans.  

Be the change, Bucknell. 

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