Celebrations erupted after Election Day earlier this month, when Colorado and Washington became the first states in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The new laws will treat pot like alcohol, allowing adults over the age of 21 to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, which will be sold and taxed at state-licensed stores.
According to The Huffington Post, Amendment 64 in Colorado, which allows the cultivation and sale of marijuana, won with 54 percent of the vote. Washington’s Initiative 502 passed with 56 percent of the vote.
Even though exit polls found that younger voters helped pass the laws, college students won’t be able to light up on campus—legally, anyway.
The federal government still considers pot illegal, and as the Associated Press explains, the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act states that any college or university receiving federal funds must adopt a program that prevents drug use by students and employees. Schools that openly and knowingly and allow the use of “illegal” substances on campus will be at risk of losing their federal funds.
So even though a student over the age of 21 could legally smoke pot out in the open just a few blocks from campus, they won’t be able to do it at school without facing penalty if they get caught. “If someone thinks they are going to walk around campus smoking a joint, it’s not going to happen,” University of Washington spokesman Norman Arkans told USA Today.
Students at the University of Colorado-Boulder are well-known for holding an annual unofficial 4/20 smoke-out on campus—a protest / demonstration for pot legalization that is not endorsed by the university—but the school has no plans for a change in marijuana policy in the immediate future, either. “We have a lot of sorting out to do,” University spokesman Bronson Hilliard told the media.
University of Denver spokeswoman Kim DeVigil also states that it is too soon to tell what will happen with pot on campus, but pointed out that the school is a smoke-free campus and smoking is not allowed in dorms, buildings, or on campus grounds.
The truth is, college students who smoke pot will most likely continue their habit regardless of laws and campus regulations that may be in place. A 2010 study conducted by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that approximately 17.4 million Americans used marijuana, up from 14.4 million in 2007. Researchers claim that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 stand out as the group with the largest increase in drug use.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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