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Marijuana on College Campuses

By San Diego Attorney on March 7, 2018

Recreational marijuana in California became legal on January 1, 2018, but the new laws came with some restrictions. And while many college and university students in San Diego were quick to light up and enjoy the new legislation, they may want to think twice about doing so on campus.

Can Students Bring Marijuana to School?

Many students attending college throughout the city are over 21, the legal age for individuals to carry and use marijuana. But they may not do so while attending school, or attending school events being held on campus.

Many of these schools in San Diego are federally funded. And carrying, using, or selling marijuana is still prohibited by federal law. Many question how a state can legalize marijuana when it is against federal law, and that legal battle is still being fought. While it is unlikely that the federal government will step in and prevent people from using marijuana in states such as California, they could bring severe penalties when it is used on federal property, such as certain courthouses. They can also withdraw federal funding from places that receive it. That includes schools such as San Diego Community College District, the University of California San Diego, and San Diego State University.

As students hear the news that they and the school could be penalized for bringing marijuana onto campus, the reactions have been mixed. Some do not understand how schools can regulate the use of marijuana after Proposition 64. Others compare it to the no-smoking policy many schools have on campus, which prohibits the smoking of cigarettes. Even though a substance may be legal, the school retains the right to regulate the use of it on campus.

Many schools have said that they will be regularly monitoring campus grounds to ensure that students are complying with the regulations.

What Is California’s Law Regarding Marijuana on Campus?

A number of laws were included in Proposition 64 restricting the use of marijuana, and those laws are applied everywhere in the state—not just in San Diego, and not just on school campuses.

One such restriction is that cannabis cannot be smoked, vaporized, or ingested in any public place. The term “public place” is not limited to property that is federally owned or federally funded. It is any place the public has access to. Typically, school and college buildings are included. This restriction alone prohibits anyone from using marijuana on any school or college campus.

What Are the Penalties for Bringing Marijuana on Campus?

Some students may lose their federal loans, with the added penalty of being required to pay back what they have already been given immediately. And, because students are required to disclose any federal drug offenses on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications, they may not be eligible to receive any federal loans in the future either.

It is unlikely that students caught carrying marijuana on school grounds would be arrested, unless they were selling marijuana, which is still illegal under state law. Instead, penalties would be handled by the administrative staff at the schools or be forwarded to student judicial affairs. Those penalties could include requiring the student to attend treatment programs, or they could be as severe as the student being expelled from the school.

Individuals who do not attend a school but still enter the property for certain events may not be held to the same regulations. While they may be asked to leave, serious penalties would only be incurred if they refused to do so, which would result in them potentially being charged with trespassing. However, security personnel at certain universities, namely University of California, have stated that individuals not affiliated with the university likely would not even be asked to leave unless they were causing a disturbance.

With the passage of California’s new marijuana laws, details still need to be ironed out, and many people are unaware of these restrictions on campus. If you or someone you know was charged with a crime relating to cannabis, contact the San Diego marijuana crime attorneys at JD Law. A drug crimes charge is always serious, and we have experience defending possession, under the influence, and attempted sales successfully for our clients. Call (760) 630-2000 for a free consultation today.

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