Marijuana may be legal in Oregon, but hold off on lighting that joint.
Measure 91, while allowing the personal possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over, does not go into effect until July. Until then, current pot laws in Oregon remain in place, and UP’s administration has stressed that pot will remain banned from campus even after July.
The passage of Measure 91 on Nov. 4 makes Oregon the third state to legalize recreational marijuana after Colorado and Washington. Alaska and Washington, D.C. also voted Nov. 4 to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Even after July 1, 2015, you’re not likely to see people lighting up in Cathedral Park or at the coast. Oregon’s legal pot law prohibits consuming in public, just as with alcohol. You also probably won’t see the equivalent of bars for smoking pot.
Oregon’s legal pot law also doesn’t change landlord-tenant or employment laws. Your boss or landlord can still impose drug-free policies.
Marijuana will be be available at retail stores and regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC). The OLCC will begin accepting license applications for retail locations beginning Jan. 4, 2016.
The OLCC still has many details to work through, such as who is eligible for a commercial license to grow and sell marijuana, how marijuana-infused edibles will be packaged and labeled, and how marijuana will be produced and tested.
Marijuana at UPFr. John Donato, the associate vice president for student development, emphasized that marijuana will remain banned from The Bluff in an email sent to students Nov. 5.
“Our drug policy is clear that the use of illegal substances and the misuse of legal substances are strictly prohibited. Additionally, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Regardless of its status in the state of Oregon, or whether or not an individual possesses a prescription for medical use, marijuana is banned from our community. Our policies will not change with the passing of Measure 91,” Donato said.
The current policy outlined in the student handbook says that “the possession, use, sale, distribution, or manufacture of marijuana (regardless of whether the student possesses a prescription for medical use) … is strictly prohibited.”
However, ASUP Senators Anthony Montoya and Sammy van den Berg find the University’s current disciplinary policies regarding the possession and use of marijuana too harsh. Currently, the student handbook states that students who violate the marijuana ban may face heavy consequences, “including but not limited to suspension or dismissal.”
Montoya, a junior political science major, said he and van den Berg are crafting a Senate measure that would make the University’s disciplinary system for marijuana more like UP’s alcohol violation policy, which often involves a reflection paper and pastoral conversations.
“The reason administration gives for clamping down so hard is that they want to care for students’ health,” Montoya said. “It’s a very caring campus, and they want to take a holistic approach, but I don’t think that’s consistent with removing students from the community. If we want to help students grow, we need to keep them in the community and check in with them and see if they’re doing alright.”
Donato said the University takes a strong stance against drugs out of concern for students and the community.
“The University values the personal wellness, health, academic success, growth, and development of the individuals within our community,” Donato said in an email. “The University of Portland does not believe that marijuana or other illegal drugs promote the success of our students.”
Montoya does not believe other students would be negatively affected by having students in the community who use marijuana, but he said non-smokers might be a positive influence on a student who “administration believes is damaging their health.”
Unlike alcohol, however, marijuana remains illegal at a federal level. Even with the legalization of marijuana statewide, students could face serious drug convictions, including being precluded from receiving financial aid.
Montoya said he would not support a policy that would threaten federal funding or scholarships, but said his proposed measure, which focuses only on the disciplinary side, wouldn’t clash with federal regulations.
“It’s interesting because underage drinking is also illegal on a federal level, but the policy with that is very generous and very helpful for students,” Montoya said. “Students should have the opportunity to rectify their lifestyle and be more in line with administration’s expectations.”
Montoya and van den Berg are in the process of meeting with UP administrators and writing the measure. They plan to present it to senate after Thanksgiving Break.
“Administration is very open to discussing this topic,” Montoya said.
Other College CampusesUP’s firm ban on marijuana is consistent with other universities. Since most colleges receive federal funds, they are required to abide by federal regulations that bar the illegal use of drugs and alcohol on their campuses.
Other universities on marijuanaThe NCAA has also taken a firm stance against marijuana use among athletes. "The legalizing of marijuana in Colorado and Washington does not impact the NCAA drug testing rules," the college athletics governing body said in a statement. "The NCAA banned drug and testing policies are not tied to whether a substance is legal for general population use, but rather whether the substance is considered a threat to student-athlete health and safety or the integrity of the game."
"Seattle University’s policy remains unchanged: Use and possession of marijuana on campus or during any university-sponsored or affiliated activity or program is prohibited.” (Source: The Substance Abuse Policy and Protection Program)
"Gonzaga is required to uphold, and expects its students to abide by federal laws which prohibit use, distribution, consumption, of marijuana by anyone of any age." (Source: student handbook)
“The negative personal consequences that can happen to a student far outweigh any brief exhilaration or escape. The college strongly believes that any use of controlled substances is antithetical to the growth and development of students and contrary to the mission of Whitman College.” (Source: student handbook)
Colorado State University
“Marijuana use or possession is prohibited across the entire campus, including all open areas and buildings, such as the residence and dining halls. CSU is not required to allow - and in fact is subject to affirmative obligations to prohibit -- the medical or recreational use of marijuana in the residence halls or on campus, because marijuana is illegal under federal law.”