|Photo: Fox 2|
|Never mind that medical marijuana isn’t against the law for authorized patients in Michigan. MSU’s gonna bust legal patients if they bring pot on campus.|
A policy prohibiting legal medical marijuana patients from using or possessing cannabis on the campus of Michigan State University is coming under increasing fire.
In “Frequently Asked Questions” page on MSU’s website, the policy is outlined, reports Todd A. Heywood of The Michigan Messenger:
3. Does the Act change University policy regarding drug use or possession on campus?No, University policies have not changed. Students and employees may not use or possess marihuana on campus. This is true whether the marihuana is smoked or ingested through other means. Michigan State University is subject to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendment of 1989. Consistent with those laws, the MSU Drug and Alcohol Policy prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of controlled substances, illicit drugs, and alcohol on any property governed by the Board of Trustees and at any site where work is performed by individuals on behalf of the University. The Alcohol and Controlled Substances Policy also applies to employees performing safety-sensitive functions and whose position responsibilities require they obtain a commercial driver’s license.Employees and students who violate University policy prohibiting the use or possession of illegal drugs on campus are subject to disciplinary action through the appropriate disciplinary process.
The problem with MSU’s policy, according to activists, is that it violates Michigan’s medical marijuana law, passed overwhelmingly by 63 percent of the voters in 2008. That law specifically prohibits anyone from denying rights and privileges based on the fact that a person is a legal medical marijuana patient.
“MSU is subject to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989,” said Kent Cassella, spokesman for Michigan State University. “In addition, the MSU Drug and Alcohol Policy prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of controlled substances, illicit drugs and alcohol on property governed by the Board of Trustees and at any site where university work is performed.”
“Employees and students who violate university policy prohibiting the use or possession of illegal drugs on campus are subject to disciplinary action,” Cassella said.
But Mike Meno of the Marijuana Policy Project, based in Washington, D.C., said the university was misguided in its opposition to Michigan state law.
“The Obama Administration has been very clear in its policy of respecting state medical marijuana laws, so there is no reason to believe MSU would be reprimanded simply for following state law,” Meno said. “More to the point, the federal government has almost no interest in charging a college student who is legally allowed to use medical marijuana.”
“Furthermore, a state court in Michigan would be unable to charge someone for violating federal marijuana laws,” Meno pointed out. “So the only people interested in arresting and charging public university students who legally use medical marijuana are MSU officials, judging by this statement.”
Cassella said the university had developed policies regarding registered medical marijuana patients who attend MSU. The requirement that freshmen live on campus can be waived for such patients, he said.
As part of the “certain accommodations” the university will make for medical marijuana patients, it would allow them “to end their housing contract and move off campus without penalty.”
“Anyone who is on MSU’s campus and is suspected of committing a crime or violating university policy is subject to disciplinary action,” Cassella said when asked if the university would see prosecution of students or faculty possessing medical marijuana, as allowed by the law.
Even with these strict rules, MSU students said finding pot on campus isn’t hard, reports Rachel Thomas at WILX.
“I have smelled it walking into buildings in resident halls,” said MSU student Alex Barber.
“You can find it if you go looking for it,” MSU student Erik Bates said.
“Students and staff do not feel that marijuana is a large problem on campus,” Thomas reports.
“For qualified patients under Michigan’s law, marijuana is a legal medicine, just like any other,” Meno said. “It would be contemptible for the university to arrest students simply for possessing a potentially life-saving medicine on school grounds.”
“MSU officials have no more reason to discriminate against a student who legally possesses marijuana than they do a student who has a legal prescription for Adderall or anti-depressants,” Meno said.
“This policy is an affront to the dignity of students or employees who use marijuana legally to ease chronic and often painful conditions,” Meno said. “It is cruel, unjust, unnecessary, and — under Michigan law — illegal.”