Initiative 502, passed in a statewide vote in November, allows people over the age of 21 to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, effective today, Dec. 6. However, Western policy remains unchanged: Use and possession of marijuana on campus is prohibited.
While Western abides by all state laws, it also must follow all federal laws, and I-502 creates a conflict between the two. When state and federal laws are in conflict, federal law takes precedence. And since Western receives federal funds – and thousands of Western students receive federal financial aid – Western must continue to abide by federal laws and regulations and campus policy barring the use and possession of marijuana on campus.
Under the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, as a condition of receiving federal funds, an institution of higher education such as Western must certify that it has adopted and implemented a program to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees. This includes any amount of marijuana, per federal law.
If Western does not comply with federal law and regulations on marijuana possession and use on campus, it risks losing federal funds for financial aid, research and in other areas.