Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Despite Legalization, Marijuana Prohibited on Campus

Although voters passed Initiative 71 last Tuesday to legalize recreational marijuana in D.C., because of federal law, marijuana policies on Georgetown University’s campus will remain the same.

Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh explained that because federal law still prohibits the possession, use or production of illegal drugs, the university will continue its current no-tolerance policy.

“Georgetown University complies with both local and federal laws. Federal law prohibits possession, manufacturing, and use of marijuana. As a recipient of federal funds — including campus-based student aid funds — we comply with federal laws, such as those requiring a drug-free workplace,” Pugh wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Georgetown’s current policy prohibits the presence of marijuana on university property.

“The possession, use, manufacturing and/or distribution of illegal drugs, as defined under D.C. and federal law, are prohibited at all times on university property, in university vehicles, or in connection with any university activity or business,” the Code of Student Conduct reads. “Employees and students who violate the university’s policies will be subject to disciplinary actions by the university.”

As the university receives federal assistance for its financial aid program, Georgetown is required to comply with federal statutes to continue receiving aid.

“Students may lose financial aid if convicted of a federal drug crime,” Pugh wrote. “Given these facts, we do not have any plans to change our policies or the student code of conduct.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson noted that if federal statute changed, the university would re-evaluate its stance on the issue.

“We are not making any changes to the university’s policies around marijuana at this time. If federal law changes at some point in the future, we will evaluate impacts on our policies at that time,” Olson wrote in an email.

According to Georgetown University Police Department’s 2014 annual crime report, there were 33 drug violations in 2011, 27 drug violations in 2012, and 20 drug violations in 2013. None of these violations resulted in arrest.

College campuses in Colorado and Washington, states which both legalized marijuana in 2013, have similarly left their policies unchanged in accordance with federal law. University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, and Colorado College, as well as the University Of Washington, all ban marijuana on their campuses.

Even though the official university policy has not changed, Georgetown University Student Association President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) said that GUSA and its Student Advocacy Office would consider advocating adjusting the repercussions for drug violations as District drug law changes.

“GUSA can, and will, continue to look at sanctions resulting from drug violations in the student code of conduct. D.C.’s decision to legalize should change how we adjudicate and sanction students who violate the policy. We are actively working with the SAO and the Office of Student Conduct to address the policy,” Tezel said.

A student group at The George Washington University called Students for Sensible Drug Policy is similarly pushing to extend GWU’s drug amnesty policy in the wake of the District’s passage of Initiative 71, according to The GWU Hatchet. Like Georgetown, GWU also must adhere to federal law or risk losing government funding.

“Despite the results of Initiative 71 in the District of Columbia, GWU policy does not permit students, faculty, staff or visitors to possess or use marijuana for any purpose. GWU’s policy is consistent with and required by federal law,” GWU spokesperson Maralee Csellar told The GWU Hatchet.

If implemented, the new law will allow those over 21 years of age to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants as home, as long as no more than three are fully matured. The initiative does not approve the sale of marijuana, but stores may sell paraphernalia, and up to one ounce of the substance may be offered as a gift. The initiative passed Nov. 4 with 68 percent support.

Before the law takes effect, it will be submitted to Congress for review. Although some House Republicans have publicly stated a desire to reject the law, such a maneuver would require the approval of the House, Senate and the president. Even if Congress chooses to withhold action, thus allowing the law, the D.C. Council has stated its intent to delay implementation of the law until it can work out an extensive tax-and-regulation system within the next year.

Carter Rise (COL ’17) did not foresee any changes to campus life as a result of legalization.

“I doubt campus life will really change at all. Some students certainly already used marijuana recreationally, and I doubt those who did not before will start now,” Rise said.

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