The legalization of possession of marijuana in New York State was passed on March 31 and could have significant effects on the surrounding communities and colleges within.
The policies for campus life and the possession of marijuana remain unchanged according to the legislation signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo but are yet to be decided by the individual schools.
The signing of this legislation may benefit the state and allow for the taxation of marijuana purchases, but it does not protect individuals from federal law punishments nor from guidelines put in place by universities and like institutions.
“The policies of private colleges and universities are not based strictly on state laws, and as such, the recent legislation does not materially affect our Student Code of Conduct, as it pertains both to conduct occurring on and off-campus,” said Shad Crowe, vice president for emergency management. “At this time, we have no specific plans to change our Code of Conduct as it relates to marijuana.”
The passing of legislation regarding the legality of marijuana versus the student’s inability to use it due to campus policies could result in some mixed signals.
“Marijuana is specifically mentioned in section 15 subset F of the code of conduct as being prohibited to use, possess, manufacture, distribute, or sell on campus,” said Hannah Camfield, junior and current resident assistant. “I personally don’t anticipate this policy changing unless and until federal law changes.”
Camfield went on to say that all inquiries of campus policy can be found on UC’s student conduct website.
Utica College students receive grants and aid from the federal government,” Crowe said. “A formal endorsement, or permitting the use of marihuana on a College campus, in direct contradiction to Federal Law, places students and any institution receiving federal aid at risk of losing access to that aid as well as potentially suffering an immediate suspension of federal work-study programs on campus.”
According to Crowe, this also means that any student who receives federal funding must follow federal law, regardless of the individual state policy where the school is located. Crowe went on to say that this is the case at institutions where recreational use of marijuana has been approved at the state level for years.
“A student’s off-campus home or apartment is not under the control of the school to search in any way,” said Aleecia Pease, a construction management major. “However, [for] an off-campus student who brings their marijuana on campus, either in their vehicle noticeably or on their person, the school has every right to reprimand. For on-campus students, the dorms are viable to be searched under suspicion.”
Currently, no changes in the Utica College student handbook have been made but in the event that they were, the idea of safe smoking areas is of great importance.
“I think there should be designated smoking spots around campus,” Aleecia Pease said. “It would allow students and faculty to participate safely and most importantly allow students to partake outside of the dorms. I do think that smoking locations should be further removed from building entrances in general to help students who suffer from respiratory issues.”
If the campus policies were to change at Utica College then implementing smoking stations that are further away from doorways could prove helpful for those that have underlying health conditions or are uncomfortable with secondhand smoke of any kind.
“I think the smoking areas will be the same, just like they will be in public areas around New York,” Senior Hayleigh Snyder said. “The smoking areas for marijuana may be closer to the dorms rather than the academic side of campus to prevent students who don’t want to get high to avoid it.”
The possibility of institutions, specifically private institutions that receive federal funding, changing their policies concerning recreational marijuana use is approaching but until the federal laws concerning this topic are changed, UC plans to remain firm in their current policies.
“Utica College is a private institution and there are no plans to alter or change the current student code of conduct as it relates to the possession or use of marijuana on Utica College owned or operated properties,” Crowe said.