February 1, 2012

Arizona Lawmakers Prepare To Ban Medical Marijuana On College Campuses

February 1, 2012
drug free school

drug free schoolBy Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

Arizona lawmakers are preparing on Wednesday to deny university and college students living on campus the right to use medical marijuana, even if they have the legally required doctor’s recommendation to use it.

Legislation written by Rep. Amanda Reeve (R-Phoenix) would make it illegal to use and even to possess marijuana on the campus of any public or private post-secondary institution of learning, reports Howard Fischer at Capitol Media Services.

Included under the overbearing law would be not only the state university system and network of community colleges but even various private schools that offer degrees or certificates.

That doesn’t just mean keeping marijuana out of classrooms and open areas.

HB 2349, set for debate in the House Committee on Higher Education, also would prohibit students from using cannabis in their dorm rooms — even if the patient is drinking a cannabis infused drink or eating a cannabis edible.

Students would be prohibited from possessing marijuana, even for use somewhere off campus.

“This is an attack on patients … who are abiding by state law,” said Joe Yuhas, spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association.

Yuhas said the move is illegal, and vowed to sue if the measure is passed into law.

Arizona’s 2010 medical marijuana law lists ailments and conditions that qualify patients to seek a doctor’s recommendation to get up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

Yuhas said that Arizona’s medical marijuana law was written to ban the use of cannabis on public school campuses. But nothing in the voter-approved law prohibits adults who have the legally required doctor’s recommendation from using it elsewhere.

According to the Arizona’s Voter Protection Law, legislators are specifically barred from altering measures approved at the ballot box unless the legislation “furthers the purpose” of the underlying measure, in this case the medical marijuana law. And this, Yuhas said, does not do that.

Rep. Reeve claims that the problem is that federal regulations governing universities require that they forbid students from having “illegal controlled substances.” She claimed that schools which do not comply could lose federal funding and financial assistance for students.

This, however, has never happened at any school due to medical marijuana use, at least as far as Toke of the Town can determine.

According to Regents spokeswoman Katie Paquet, those federal rules exempt students who have prescriptions for otherwise illegal drugs such as opiate narcotics. But she said — and Rep. Reeve agreed — that doesn’t help students with state-recognized medical marijuana recommendations.

“The federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits the possession, use or production of marijuana, even for medical use,” Reeve said.

Students who live in a dorm are simply out of luck if they’re medical marijuana patients, if Reeve’s bill is passed.

“They’re not going to be able to use or possess marijuana on campus,” Reeve said. “That’s how we deal with the issue so we can stay in compliance” with federal laws.

In any event, Reeve said, the needs of the majority of students who depend directly or indirectly on federal funds outweigh those who are medical marijuana patients.

“Do we punish all the students so a few can have the ability to do this?” Reeve asked. “Why should all the students suffer?”

Apparently, though, it’s just fine if the students who are medical marijuana patients suffer.

“Universities aren’t being asked to dispense or host a dispensary,” Yuhas said.

He added that 15 other states have medical marijuana laws.

“This has not been an issue,” Yuhas said. “This is a solution in search of a problem.”

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.

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