Aug 252010
Authors: Emily Johnson

Kayla Schwartz decided not to live in the dorms this year because she’s not allowed to medicate on campus.

“It just makes me so mad,” Schwartz, a senior communications major and medical marijuana, MMJ, cardholder, said. “Students can use prescription pills in the dorms which have a huge rap sheet for being addictive and sometimes fatal. Find me one case ever documented where marijuana use has led to death.”

Though it is legal to be an MMJ patient in Fort Collins –– meaning that a card holder may use marijuana in any form to ease physical pain, and may also grow it for medicinal purposes in the privacy of their homes –– the possession and use of marijuana in university housing is strictly prohibited.

According to the Residence Hall Handbook, the possession of a medical marijuana permit does not allow for the possession or use of marijuana in the residence halls or the university apartments. Marijuana obtained for medicinal purposes cannot be stored or used in the residence halls.

Tonie Miyamoto, Director of Communication for Housing and Dining Services said there are numerous reasons for not allowing MMJ use on campus.

“For one, it’s illegal federally,” Miyamoto said. “There’s really no getting around that.”

The federal government regulates drugs through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811), which does not acknowledge a distinction between medical and recreational use of marijuana.

Under federal law, marijuana is treated like every other controlled substance, such as cocaine and heroin, which means that the federal government views marijuana as highly addictive and having no medical value.

“It’s not illegal for students to carry a medicinal marijuana card, but they have to abide by the policies here,” Miyamoto said.

The university has a strict drug use and smoking policy. Though there are designated smoking areas on campus, students can’t smoke MMJ anywhere on campus. Edible marijuana products are also prohibited.

“I just don’t think that’s right,” Schwartz said. “It means that if you are a patient, you have to opt out of the dorm experience, which is really a really valuable experience.”

Schwartz is now living in an apartment near campus. She ran into a similar issue when applying for her new place. One of the questions on the application asked to state whether or not she was an MMJ patient.

“I feel like I can’t win anywhere,” said Schwartz who possesses an MMJ license for chronic pain from a shoulder injury. “If I have to leave my house or dorm to medicate, then I run the risk of traveling back home under the influence, and (its effects) will probably be worn off by the time I get home anyway.”

Schwartz works at a local MMJ dispensary and hears the same laments from many of the patients who are students. She also said students come in to inquire about medical marijuana and decide against applying for a license while living in the dorms because it just doesn’t seem worth it.

“They won’t even be able to reap the benefits,” she said.

So far, though there is some chatter going on regarding dorm room policies, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of movement in the works at this time.

Paul Osincup, the associate director of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services, said he is not aware of any formal complaints from students in the residence halls regarding medical marijuana.

_Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at _

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