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Dealing with marijuana on college campuses

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Since 2012, nine states have permitted the consumption of recreational marijuana while 30 states have allowed the drug to be used for medicinal purposes.

However, higher education institutions among those states have not seen a significant increase of pot consumption on its campuses.

The Drug Enforcement Administration reports, “One in every 22 college students use marijuana daily, or almost daily.”

This may be due to the fact that most colleges enforce federal marijuana regulations in order to maintain Title IV federal funding, which consists of financial aid programs for students.

According to The Legal Intelligencer website, “The Safe and Drug Free Schools Act (the DFSCA) requires institutions that receive funds or other financial assistance from the federal government to adopt and implement a drug prevention program, which means that colleges and universities that allow marijuana use on campus could be at risk of losing federal funding.”

Despite the obvious concern, Craig Jaccuzzo, Nicholls chief of police, said the university will allow students to have medicinal marijuana on campus once patients have access to it.

“It is no different than any treatable pharmaceutical drug that is issued under prescription,” Jaccuzzo said.

However, he warns that the distribution of the drug will be handled in the same manner as any other prescription drugs being sold illegally.

Currently, the Nicholls Police Department follows Louisiana state protocol for marijuana possession.

Jaccuzzo said, “Marijuana in the simple possession is a misdemeanor. We write them a summons and they go to the city of Thibodaux courtroom.”

In addition to this protocol, Nicholls Police also have what they call “a teachable moment” with students in possession.

Jaccuzzo said, “Every time an individual gets arrested for an alcohol charge, a marijuana charge, domestic violence or any type of crime that involves the interaction of others, we utilize student affairs, student life and the director of judicial affairs, which is Tommy Ponson. They get referred with a discipline summons. Not only do they have to go through the criminal justice system on that charge.”

Students with the charges stated above are required to take part in educational programs like Alcohol 101, Marijuana 101 and other student accountability programs to learn from their misconduct.

According to campus incident reports, there were five marijuana related arrests on campus in 2014 and eight in 2015 and 2016. All of these offenses have taken place in residential housing on campus.

Jaccuzzo said these numbers are relatively consistent with past years and before legalization in the United States.

“There’s not a trend showing that there’s been an increase of marijuana use on campus,” Jaccuzzo said.  

According to The Advocate, the state of Louisiana is in the process of growing medical marijuana at Louisiana State University and Southern University Agriculture Centers. The crop is expected to be harvested in early November and available to physicians and patients sometime during the spring of 2019. Nine pharmacists are licensed to sell the prescription to patients. The medicinal marijuana will only be available in the form of oil, pills, liquid, sprays or topical applicants, but not sold in the form to be smoked.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health, legislation approved a list of conditions patients must have to be eligible for treatments: cancer, HIV positive, AIDS, seizure disorder, glaucoma, Parkinson’s Disease, Epilepsy, severe muscle spasms, post-traumatic stress disorder, spasticity, Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.

Jaccuzzo said that if and when recreational marijuana consumption does become legal in the state of Louisiana, the Nicholls Police Department will still enforce the smoke-free campus policy.

 

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The student newspaper of Nicholls State University
Dealing with marijuana on college campuses