The University Tussle - Medical Marijuana

While U.S. states continue to enact medical marijuana laws regulating the use of marijuana for medical conditions, this action is in direct conflict with federal law known as the Control Substances Act (Title 21), which regulates, ban access and use of identified drugs or substances having the potential for abuse. Possession of such drug is considered a criminal felony offense. According to the Schedules in the Control Substances Act, marijuana is classified under Schedule I, Section C, for these three reasons: 1) substances having hallucinogenic properties with a high potential for abuse, 2) without a current accepted medical use in treatment, and 3) lacks an acceptable safety use under medical supervision. In 2002, a Research Report from the National Institute of Drug Abuse entitled Marijuana Abuse, states “Scientists have confirmed that the cannabis plant contains active ingredients with therapeutic potential for relieving pain, controlling nausea, stimulating appetite, and decreasing ocular pressure.” Therefore, 17 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to legalized small amounts of marijuana for medical use under physician supervision.

 Programs like “How Did We Get Here? Media & Social Perspectives on Marijuana Is it Medicine? The Medical Marijuana Debate” from HealthRadio.Net  debates the pros and cons of this issue. And websites such as NORML and Common Sense for Drug Policy are just two of many advocacy groups and tracking state laws that support medical marijuana, in addition to campaigning to change the classification and criminal definitions for marijuana at the federal level.

In an earlier article on Free Legal Aid in reference to federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in California, all states where medical marijuana laws have been enacted, the federal government continues to interfere in the prescribed legal use in these two articles when comes to colleges (Southern Maine) and universities (Arizona State) arizonawho receive federal funding. University administrators can not violate the Drug Free Schools and Community Act and the Drug Free Workplace Act by allowing students to use small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes on its campus. In the May 24, 2012, reported on Medical Marijuana 101: You Can’t Smoke That On Campus. Stephen Nelson, from the University of Southern Maine, said “It’s not the question of right or wrong, ethical or not ethical, and of that. Right now, we just can’t run the risk of losing federal dollars.” The federal funding consists of Title 4 financial aid and for research. According to Jill Creighton of the University of Colorado, Denver, “Some student codes of conduct are much more lax about marijuana use in general, but the assumption is if we were to allow medical marijuana on our campuses, we would then be jeopardizing our Title 4 funding.” Whereas some universities have incorporated marijuana in their campus policy governing the use of alcohol and other drugs at University of Stony Brook in New York, states, “New York State law classifies possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana as a violation. Penalties range from $100 to $250 fine and/or up to 15 days in jail, depending on whether it is a first, second or third offense. Possession of more than 25 grams but not more than eight ounces is a misdemeanor; possession of more than eight ounces is a felony. Sale of 25 grams or less is a misdemeanor; sale of more than 25 grams is a felony. New York State law makes no exception for the use of marijuana for medical purposes.”  And even the U.S. Department of Justice as noted in the NPR report according to Alison Price, spokesperson,” The Department of Justice is focusing its limited resources on significant drug traffickers, not seriously ill individuals who are in compliance with applicable state medical marijuana statutes.”

Consequently this is why the issue has been taken to ballot box where voters or state representatives approve medical marijuana laws. And the momentum is growing across the country to approve laws regulating medical marijuana use as well as noted in this recent poll (5/16/2012) by the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research on behalf of the Marijuana Policy Project that finds 76% of Americans want to end the federal government crackdown on medical marijuana in states where medicinal use of the plant is legal.

Susanne L Woodford, Freelance Writer

June 29, 2012