Article: General Counsel’s Corner: Cannabis and the Campus

Article: General Counsel’s Corner: Cannabis and the Campus

AUTHORS Bond Schoeneck & King PLLC Catherine Graziose Barbara Lee, Ph.D.   Cannabis—also known as marijuana—has been legalized in the last two decades in more than half of the states. Thirty-nine states allow the use of medical marijuana, while 18 states and the District of Columbia permit both medical and recreational marijuana.1 Despite what would appear to be increasingly lawful access to cannabis, it is still classified by U.S. law as a Schedule I Controlled Substance,2 which means that its possession, sale or use is prohibited by federal law, even in those states whose laws have decriminalized the use of cannabis. Furthermore, colleges and universities are subject to stricter federal restrictions than other organizations, in that cannabis cannot be grown, possessed or used on campuses if the institution receives federal funds.3 Federal Laws Restricting Controlled Substances on Campus The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989 (the Act) is the main body of law governing the use of controlled substances on college campuses.4 In response to President George H.W. Bush’s national drug control strategy, Congress passed legislation to require schools, colleges and universities to implement and enforce drug and alcohol prevention programs and policies as a condition of eligibility to receive federal funds and assistance. The specifics of the Act are articulated through the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) at Part 86, i.e., the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Regulations (the Regulations), which are highlighted below. Regulation Requirements EDGAR at Part 86 requires that Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) receiving federal funds or financial assistance must develop and implement a program to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees.5 Some of the requirements of this program involve the annual reporting of: standards of conduct; a description of sanctions for violating federal, state and local…

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