December 10, 2012

Will The University Of Colorado Lose Federal Funding Due To Amendment 64?

December 10, 2012
colorado marijuana legalization denver da

university of colorado bruce brown jared polis marijuana federal fundingWill Marijuana Legalization In Colorado Mean An End To University Funding From The Feds?

Late Friday and into the weekend the President of the University of Colorado, and then Colorado Congressman Jared Polis, spoke out about a possible federal funding issue in Colorado. Late Friday night (December 7th), University of Colorado President Bruce Brown issued the following e-mail:

Letter From University Of Colorado President Bruce Benson

Dear Friends and Alumni,

When Colorado voters in November passed Amendment 64, which legalized small amounts of marijuana for personal use, it led to a number of questions. Most uncertainty surrounds the conflict between the new state law and federal law, under which marijuana remains illegal. Amendment 64 will be signed into law in January and take effect in January 2014.

But for the University of Colorado, the issue is clear. Marijuana threatens to cost the university nearly a billion dollars annually in federal revenue, money we can ill afford to lose.

I was personally opposed to Amendment 64 and worked on my own time to defeat it. But it passed and CU, like many entities, is working to determine the implications.

The glaring practical problem is that we stand to lose significant federal funding. CU must comply with the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which compels us to ban illicit drugs from campus. Our campuses bring in more than $800 million in federal research funds, not to mention nearly an additional $100 million in funding for student financial aid. The loss of that funding would have substantial ripple effects on our students and our state. CU contributes $5.3 billion to Colorado’s economy annually, a good portion of it derived from our research.

Additionally, we have worked hard to fight the image of CU as a party school. While we are not naïve about the behavior of some of our students, we know that the party school image is vastly overstated. The publications that promote such nonsense, such as Playboy and the Princeton Review, use research methodology that would earn them an “F” in any CU class. The vast majority of our students are serious and hardworking and don’t appreciate that their school’s reputation is sullied by suspect methodology and vague notions.

Likewise, the 4/20 event we worked to shut down last year (and will continue to in coming years), paints a picture of CU that is far from accurate. More than two-thirds of those who participate are not CU students. Regardless, it is not what we want our university known for.

We are not only within our rights to ban marijuana on our campuses, it is the right thing to do. Many insist the legalization votes in Colorado and Washington state are in part a referendum on the war on drugs, and the point is hard to argue. That is a discussion we should have as a society. However, in a tenuous funding environment, the possibility of losing nearly a billion dollars is a chance we simply cannot take. We have better things to focus on.

For feedback, contact


Bruce Benson

United States Representative Jared Polis responded almost instantly, via Twitter:

jared polis twitter bruce brown university of colorado

The next day, Congressman Polis’ issued the following statement on his website:

Congressman Jared Polis’ Response

Congressman Jared Polis issued the following statement in reaction to University of Colorado President Bruce Benson’s claim in an email sent on Friday night that Amendment 64 would impact federal funding.

“The University of Colorado is not in jeopardy of losing a single dime of federal funding due to Amendment 64. President Benson has allowed his personal opposition to Amendment 64 to compromise his responsibility to the university by spreading an alarmist claim that has no basis in fact.

The legality of marijuana in Colorado tomorrow will not impact CU any more than the legality of alcohol does today. The federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act requires universities to adopt and implement drug prevention programs to prevent the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs or alcohol by students and employees on school premises or as part of any of its activities. The University’s alcohol and drug policy bans the use of alcohol and marijuana on campus and satisfies the federal requirement.

I will not stand by and allow the reputation of the University of Colorado to be sullied by the non-existent threat of losing one billion dollars. As the federal representative the University of Colorado at Boulder, I want to reassure parents, students, and faculty that CU is not in danger of losing any federal funding due to Amendment 64. I call upon President Benson to immediately retract his message and clarify that the University is not in danger of losing any federal funds due to the passage of Amendment 64.”


I think that it’s obvious that President Benson is overreacting and trying to spin his own agenda in the media. I’m so grateful that Representative Polis is around to respond in such a timely fashion and hope the issue dies. The federal government needs universities for research and to educate the next generation of leaders at the federal level and beyond. Taking away funding in order to pursue a failed prohibition policy would be a catastrophic error on their part, and they know it. Nice try Bruce Benson! To hammer home the point to Mr. Benson, I would like to include a letter from the Amendment 64 campaign, which was signed by over 100 members of the academic community…some from the University of Colorado…


To the Voters of Colorado:

As professors in the fields of law, health, economics, and criminal justice, among others, we write this open letter to encourage a sensible, evidence-based approach to marijuana policy, and to endorse Amendment 64, the initiative on this year’s ballot to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.

For decades, our country has pursued a policy of marijuana prohibition that has been just as ineffective and wasteful as alcohol prohibition. We have reviewed Amendment 64 and concluded that it presents an effective, responsible, and much-needed new approach for Colorado and the nation.

Marijuana prohibition has proven to be the worst possible system when it comes to protecting teens, driving marijuana into the underground market where proof of age is not required and where other illegal products might be available. In a regulated system, marijuana sales will be taken off the streets and put behind a counter where age restrictions are strictly enforced. There is evidence that regulating marijuana works. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marijuana use among Colorado high school students declined from 2009 to 2011, the time during which the state began regulating medical marijuana sale. Meanwhile, it increased nationwide, where no such regulations were implemented.

Given our current economic climate, we must evaluate the efficacy of expensive government programs and make responsible decisions about the use of state resources. Enforcing marijuana prohibition is wasting our state’s limited criminal justice resources and eroding respect for the law. Our communities would be better served if the resources we currently spend to investigate, arrest, and prosecute people for marijuana offenses each year were redirected to focus on violent and otherwise harmful crimes. According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, passage of Amendment 64 would immediately save local and state law enforcement officials more than $12 million per year, and it could save more than $36 million per year within the first five years. Paired with new state and local revenues, the initiative has the potential to generate more than $120 million per year for Colorado and its localities.

It is also important to note that Amendment 64 does not change existing laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana, and it allows employers to maintain all of their current employment and drug-testing policies.

The State of Colorado, as well as our nation, have successfully walked the path from prohibition to regulation in the past. Eighty years ago, Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative to repeal alcohol prohibition at the state level, which was followed by repeal at the federal level. This year, we have the opportunity to do the same thing with marijuana and once again lead the nation toward more sensible, evidence-based laws and policies.

Please join us in supporting Amendment 64, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.


Burton Abrams
Professor of Economics
University of Delaware

Donald Abrams
Professor of Medicine
University of California San Francisco

Daron Acemoglu
Professor of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Patricia A. Adler
Professor of Sociology
University of Colorado Boulder

Peter Adler
Professor of Sociology and Criminology
University of Denver

Sunil Aggarwal
Researcher, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
New York University School of Medicine

Onwubiko Agozino
Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

Ty Alper
Clinical Professor of Law
U.C. Berkeley School of Law

Terry Alston
Criminal Justice Program Advisor
Chesapeake College

Howard Baetjer, Jr.
Lecturer, Department of Economics
Towson University

Jennifer Ball
Associate Professor of Economics
Washburn University

W. David Ball
Assistant Professor
Santa Clara School of Law

Randy Barnett
Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory
Georgetown Law

Humberto Barreto
Elizabeth P. Allen Distinguished University Professor, Economics and Management
DePauw University

Art Benavie
Emeritus Professor of Economics
University of North Carolina

Douglas A. Berman
Professor of Law
Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University

Marc Bilodeau
Associate Professor of Economics
Indiana University

Cyrus Bina
Distinguished Research Professor of Economics
University of Minnesota

Miriam W. Boeri
Associate Professor of Sociology
Kennesaw State University

Bruce Caldwell
Professor of Economics
Duke University

David Campbell
Lecturer in Economics
Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business

Tapoja Chaudhuri
Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Haverford College

Lawrence R. Cima
Associate Professor of Economics
John Carroll University

Richard D. Coe
Professor of Economics and Chair of the Faculty
New College of Florida

Robert A. Collinge
Professor of Economics, Retired
University of Texas at San Antonio

Mike Cummings
Professor of Political Science and President’s Teaching Scholar
University of Colorado Denver

William L. Davis
Professor of Economics
University of Tennessee at Martin

Dale DeBoer
Professor of Economics
University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Ranjit S. Dighe
Chair and Professor, Department of Economics
SUNY College at Oswego

K.K. DuVivier
Professor of Law
University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Mitch Earleywine
Professor of Psychology
University at Albany

Fred Foldvary
Lecturer in Economics, San Jose State University
Director, Civil Society Institute, Santa Clara University

Sean Fox
Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics
Kansas State University

Dennis Frank
Associate Professor, Counseling & Human Services
Roosevelt University

Arthur Gilbert
Associate Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies
University of Denver

Tom Ginsburg
Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar
University of Chicago Law School

Michael D. Goldberg
Roland H. O’Neal Professor and Professor of Economics
University of New Hampshire

Hava Rachel Gordon
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Criminology
Director, Gender and Women’s Studies Program
University of Denver

Philip E. Graves
Professor of Economics
University of Colorado

Colleen E. Haight
Assistant Professor of Economics
San Jose State University

Robert M. Hardaway
Professor of Law
University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Mark J. Heyrman
Clinical Professor of Law
University of Chicago Law School

Douglas Husak
Professor of Philosophy
Rutgers University

Leslie Irvine
Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Colorado Boulder

Habib Jam
Professor of Economics
Rowan University

Aaron Johnson
Lecturer of Sociology
University of Colorado Denver

Erika Joye
Instructor of Psychology
Metropolitan State College of Denver

Daniel Klein
Professor of Economics
George Mason University

Alex Kreit
Associate Professor of Law
Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Molly Laflin
Professor,  Human Development & Family Studies
Bowling Green State University

William D. Lastrapes
Professor of Economics
University of Georgia

David Levine
John H. Biggs Distinguished Professor of Economics
Washington University

Terry Liska
Professor Emeritus of Economics
University of Wisconsin

Mark J. Loewenstein
Monfort Professor of Commercial Law
University of Colorado Law School

David M. Long
Assistant Professor, Criminal Justice and Legal Studies
Brandman University

Eric Mack
Professor of Philosophy
Tulane University

Leigh Maddox
Adjunct Professor of Law
University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Ann Magennis
Professor of Anthropology
Colorado State University

Maurice J. Malone
Professor of Psychology
Nova Southeastern University

Paul M. Mason
Professor of Economics
University of North Florida

Robert Melamede
Professor of Biology
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Mark Montgomery
Donald L. Wilson Professor of Enterprise and Leadership, Economics
Grinnell College

Suzanna K. Moran
Lawyering Process Professor
University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Leon N. Moses
Emeritus Professor of Economics
Northwestern University

Peter Moskos
Professor, Department of Law, Police Science, and Criminal Justice Administration
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Tracy Mott
Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Economics
University of Denver

Stephen Mumme
Professor of Political Science
Colorado State University

Richard F. Muth
Calloway Professor of Economics Emeritus
Emory University

Thomas Nail
Postdoctoral Lecturer in Philosophy
University of Denver

Ved Nanda
Professor of International Law
University of Denver

Joanne Naughton
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, Retired
Mercy College

Inder P. Nijhawan
Professor Emeritus, School of Business and Economics
Fayetteville State University

Kevin O’Brien
Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Business Ethics and Legal Studies
University of Denver

Patrick O’Brien
Professor of Sociology
University of Colorado Boulder

Brendan O’Flaherty
Professor of Economics
Columbia University

Randall O’Reilly
Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
University of Colorado Boulder

Michelle Oberman
Professor of Law
Santa Clara University School of Law

Alexandre Padilla
Associate Professor of Economics
Metropolitan State University of Denver

Pete Padilla
Instructor of Sociology
University of Colorado Denver

Eunice Patterson
Professor of Dental Technology
Western Nevada College

Scott Pearce
Adjunct Law Professor
University of West Los Angeles School of Law

Michael Perelman
Professor of Economics
California State University

Dina Perrone
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
California State University – Long Beach

Mark J. Perry
Professor of Economics
University of Michigan

Delores Phillips
Assistant Professor of English
Old Dominion University

Chiara Piovani
Assistant Professor of Economics
University of Denver

Jason Plume
Lecturer on Politics and Government
Humboldt State University

Mark Pogrebin
Professor of Criminology
University of Colorado Denver

Raja Raghunath
Assistant Professor of Law
University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Valerie Ramey
Professor of Economics
University of California, San Diego

Charles A. Reichheld, III Ph.D.
Professor of Economics Emeritus
Cuyahoga Community College

Amanda Reiman
Lecturer, Social Welfare
University of California Berkeley

Leonard Riley
Instructor of Political Science
University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Gregory Robbins
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Denver

Cesare Romano
Professor of Law
Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Paul Rubin
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Economics
Emory University

John Ruggiero
Edmund B. O’Leary Professor of Economics
University of Dayton

David Sandoval
Professor of History (Ret.)
Colorado State University Pueblo

Raphael Sassower
Professor of Philosophy
University of of Colorado Colorado Springs

Scott Savage
Associate Professor of Economics
University of Colorado Boulder

Jerry Scheinbeim
Professor of  Chemcal and Biochemical Engineering
Rutgers University

Bill Schoen
Adjunct Instructor of Sociology
University of Colorado Denver

Andrew Abraham Schwartz
Associate Professor of Law
University of Colorado Law School

Marjorie Schweitzer
Professor Emeritus of Sociology
Oklahoma State University

Alan Seals
Assistant Professor of Economics
Auburn University

Hamid Shomali
Professor of Finance and Economics
Golden Gate University

Steven M. Shugan
McKethan-Matherly Eminent Scholar and Professor
University of Florida

Jonathan Simon
Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law
U.C. Berkeley School of Law

Randy Simmons
Professor of Economics
Director of the Institute of Political Economy
Utah State University

Kenneth Small
Professor Emeritus of Economics
University of California at Irvine

Ilya Somin
Professor of Law
George Mason University School of Law

Courtenay C. Stone
Professor of Economics
Ball State University

Robert N. Strassfeld
Professor of Law
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Nadine Strossen
Professor of Law
New York Law School

Scott Sumner
Professor of Economics
Bentley University

Shyam Gouri Suresh
Assistant Professor of Economics
Davidson College

Alex Tabarrok
Bartley J. Madden Professor of Economics
George Mason University

Betty Taylor
Professor of Criminal Justice and Humanities
University of Phoenix

Alex Thompson
Graduate Instructor of Sociology
University of Colorado Boulder

Richard H. Timberlake
Professor of Economics, Retired
University of Georgia

Alex Tokarev
Professor of Economics
Northwood University

John Tommasi
Senior Lecturer of Economics
Bentley University

Edward Tower
Professor of Economics
Duke University

Susan Tyburski
Lecturer on Law and Society
The Women’s College of the University of Denver

Mary Van Buren
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Colorado State University

Constantino Vazquez
Professor of Sociology
Instituto Ricardo Mella – Vigo

Daniel A. Vigil
Assistant Dean and Adjunct Professor of Law
University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Alexander “Sasha” Volokh
Associate Professor
Emory Law School

Earle Jay Watterworth III
Lecturer of Sociology
University of Colorado Boulder

David Weiner
Professor of Sociology
Austin Community College

Marilyn Welsh
Professor of Psychological Sciences
University of Northern Colorado

Mike Whitty
Adjunct Professor, School of Management
University of San Francisco

Madelyn V. Young
Associate Professor of Economics
Converse College

Tadeusz Zawidzki
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Co-Director of Mind-Brain-Evolution Cluster
George Washington University

Edward H. Ziegler
Professor of Law and Robert B. Yegge Memorial Research Chair
University of Denver

Joshua Graff Zivin
Professor, International Relations and Economics
University of California, San Diego

Joseph Zoric
Associate Professor of Economics, MBA Director
Franciscan University of Steubenville


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