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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA Eureka: April 24, 2012

Q: If I have a medical marijuana card, am I allowed to smoke marijuana on campus? What happens if I’m caught smoking and I don’t have a card?

A: You can’t smoke marijuana on campus, even if you have a card that would otherwise let you.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill that bans the use or possession of medical marijuana on college campuses on April 3. While 2010’s Arizona Medical Marijuana Act included restrictions on the K-12 system and in public community areas, it didn’t specify any restrictions of possession or use of medical marijuana on college campuses. This caused confusion and concern at colleges because such restrictions are necessary for them to receive federal funding.

Public universities must comply with three federal acts to keep federal funding: the Drug-Free Workplace Act, the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and the Controlled Substances Act. After seeing that the 2010 act failed to include a provision specifically prohibiting medical marijuana on college campuses, Arizona state Rep. Amanda Reeve introduced legislation to fix this.

“Just because it’s higher ed doesn’t mean that they should be exempt,” Reeve said. “There’s kids of all ages on those grounds, there’s daycare centers … An educational facility is an educational facility and ergo it should not be allowed.”

The only difference between pot smokers who toke with a card and those who don’t is the action taken against them if caught smoking on campus.

The University of Arizona Police Department now has to determine if the person they are investigating has a permit to smoke marijuana. With a medical marijuana card, a student avoids arrest and does not have to appear in court. Instead, they are referred to the Dean of Students Office.

Once the office receives a referral, the dean contacts the student to talk about the officer’s observations and the police report. If found guilty, the student risks academic probation and usually has to attend Campus Health Service’s Student Health Alcohol Drug Education class or meet with a counselor. Students may also have to complete community service, and their parents could receive a letter about the incident.

“If the student is found responsible for violating the student Code of Conduct, we issue sanctions that are designed to be educational and to help the student understand the impact of their behavior and choices on themselves, their community, etcetera,” said Kendal Washington White, senior associate dean in the Dean of Students Office.

Students who live in residence halls are not exempt from this policy because they have signed an agreement with residence life that says they understand that marijuana is prohibited on campus.

Students caught possessing or using marijuana that don’t have a medical card can either be charged criminally or go through the dean of student’s diversion program, just like someone with a card would. If the student completes the program, the arrest will disappear from their record. It’s up to the officer, though, to decide which of the two charges the student will face.

A criminal charge results in a citation and a court date. The student can be arrested on the spot and taken to Pima County Jail, where it typically takes a day to see a judge. UAPD can also issue a “promise to appear” which, like a traffic ticket, requires the criminal to appear in court on a given day instead.

“Typically a student can only be enrolled into diversion one time. So if it’s a subsequent violation, then they’re not eligible for diversion and they’ll get arrested,” said Sgt. Juan Alvarez, UAPD’s public information officer.

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