Recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois on Jan. 1. Because of this, COD updated the campus policy concerning drug and alcohol use to cover the use of weed. However, the cannabis policy is riddled with contradictions and fails to address certain important points.
COD’s formal stance on marijuana is that its use, possession and distribution, along with alcohol and tobacco products, is prohibited on campus, including the use of medical marijuana. The school prohibits marijuana on the grounds because the school receives federal funding, and allowing marijuana on campus could cause COD to lose that money.
The consequences of possessing or being under the influence of marijuana on campus have not been explicitly outlined. The email sent out by President Brian Caputo’s office only states that someone who violates the rules “is subject to the imposition of sanctions up to and including expulsion from the College.” In the policy, there is no mention of the explicit punishments leading up to expulsion. Will the punishment for someone being high with a medical marijuana card be less severe than the punishment of someone who is smoking recreationally?
The policy also does not address CBD products, the sale of which is legal on the federal level as long as the product contains less than 0.3% of THC. If someone were to smoke a CBD joint on school grounds or possess a CBD pen, would they be punished with the same severity of someone smoking a cigarette? Cigarettes and alcohol are not federally banned, but they are banned on campus because they are detrimental to public health. If controlled CBD is not harmful, where does COD’s policy address these new products?
We have a big problem with the college’s approach to medical marijuana in the policy. The use of medical marijuana has been legal in Illinois since 2014, however, this form of cannabis was not even addressed formally by the college until now, where it was apparently banned, according to what COD’s interim Dean of Students told our reporter.
COD’s drug policy also bans arriving to campus already under the influence of marijuana, whether it is medical or recreational. But if a student has access to medical marijuana for a legitimate medical purpose, is it fair for them to be unable to properly benefit from their medical marijuana cards? People have medical cannabis cards for a variety of reasons—veterans with PTSD, patients with chronic pain or illnesses. Does a ban on medical marijuana target these groups of people? In this sense, is COD saying it knows the medical needs of someone better than his or her own doctor?
The policy was not distributed until Tuesday afternoon, after several hours of classes being held. The school’s delay in relaying the official stance to the student body is worrisome. It implies was not prepared with a clear, black and white stance to something that needs to have explicit parameters and was known to be coming many months ago.
The college’s “no drugs” policy is barely a blanket statement that was made without regard for the various moving parts that comes with the legalization of marijuana. COD needs to put more effort in constructing its drug policy. By releasing the policy so hastily, COD has shown that it hasn’t given the thought that such a complex dilemma demands.