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Arizona Supreme Court Approves Medical Cannabis on Campus

May 23, 2018

Today, the Arizona Supreme Court concluded that the state can’t legally prosecute college students who use medical marijuana on campus. As long as the student is in possession of their medical marijuana card, law enforcement officers are not authorized to make arrests for the use of cannabis.

Arizona Student Appeals Charge

The Arizona Supreme Court cited the Arizona Constitution when repealing a 2012 law that banned medical cannabis on campus. The state’s constitution protects voter-approved laws including the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act of 2010. Additionally, the court reversed a marijuana possession conviction for ASU student,  Andre Maestas, who appealed his case and has been fighting to have the law repealed.  

There is a provision in the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act that stipulate that cannabis cannot be used in preK-12 schools. However there is no mention of college campuses and so the court has issues it’s official ruling making it legal to use medical cannabis. While this may be great news for many college students, it doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences issued by the institutions themselves.

University Cannabis Policy

Before lighting up that preroll at your college frat house you might want to consider the academic repercussions. Arizona Universities currently ban any type of cannabis use or possession on campus mostly due to the fact that marijuana is still classified as a schedule I drug by the federal government. All state supported universities and public colleges must maintain this policy to continue receiving federal funding.

Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Peter Swann, noted that including college campuses in the list of prohibited areas did not “further the purpose” of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. “The state, and the universities themselves, can still prohibit marijuana use and possession on college campuses,” Swann said. “And if people violate those rules, the colleges can have them removed or charged with trespassing.” he remarked.

Federally Funding for Universities 

The new ruling specifically addressed the allegation that a state supported university or college could not lose federal funding by allowing the use of medical marijuana on campus. "The State has not shown that a university would lose (or has lost) federal funding if a state prosecutor did not prosecute violations of the university’s program," the court recorded.

Currently the Arizona State University’s code of conduct expresses, "Students with a medical marijuana card cannot use marijuana on campus or in ASU residence halls. Those caught using marijuana at ASU are subject to disciplinary action and arrest."

Rest assured that if you get caught medicating with cannabis on campus there will most likely be disciplinary actions taken by the University but you’ll be free from any criminal charges thanks to the Arizona Supreme Court’s recent decision.