Stoners rejoice; recreational cannabis is now legal in California. However, students will still have to leave campus for their lawful toke.
The Spring 2018 semester began just after the state legalization of recreational marijuana Jan. 1, and Cal State Long Beach attendees may be wondering what legal ramifications remain tied to the drug. Frequent consumers of marijuana might be surprised to find that the school’s treatment of the pungent psychoactive substance is unchanged from 2017.
“I know the new law legalizes personal use and possession of marijuana in California,” said Elizabeth Chapin, manager of public relations for Cal State Long Beach. “However, it is still illegal under federal law.”
In addition to federal law [the Controlled Substances Act], executive orders 930 and 1108 also inhibit marijuana from being legal on campus. According to these executive orders, a campus that fails to enforce federal law will be met with consequences.
“It really comes down to money,” said Detective Chris Brown of University Police Department. “The school gets a lot of money from the federal government, and until the federal government changes their mind on what they classify as a dangerous drug or not, the university is not going to change their stance on it. Not unless [Cal State Long Beach] wants to give up their pell grants and FAFSA grants.”
Both Chapin and Brown confirmed the school allots no distinction between medicinal and recreational marijuana. Possession of any form of cannabis, whether it be flower, concentrate or derivative, including cannabidiol are strictly forbidden on university property.
“We’re taking a hardline stance on [marijuana] possession,” said Brown. “We do not want possession on campus. We understand people have it for medicinal purposes. [You] can’t smoke it on campus, [you] can’t have it in your car.” Your dorm room isn’t an exception either, according to Brown, who has witnessed cases where students were removed from on campus housing after the discovery of marijuana in their rooms.
Any amount exceeding 28 grams of flower or edibles and four grams of concentrate are grounds for arrest.
In comparison, alcohol is legal on campus in designated areas and situations. Previously, anyone found consuming alcohol outside of designated selling sites would be cited, but recent changes in policy have made it possible for individuals over 21 years old to legally carry closed containers as long as they are not publicly consuming in unauthorized locations.
Those caught with marijuana will be forced to relinquish their paraphernalia, which will be taken into custody by authorities. The punishment that follows depends on the age of the individual, the circumstances and how an officer chooses to enforce the law.
For those under 21, punishment entails special counseling and a “criminal citation for infraction violation of the health and safety code.” Although underaged violators can technically be arrested on misdemeanor charges, according to Brown they typically are not.
Anyone between the ages of 18-21 will receive a $100 fine, while individuals over the age of 21 will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development for counseling.
First time offenders are required to attend a four-hour Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs class. Second time offenses result in required counseling. By the third offense, the situation must be evaluated to see if the student has a dependency issue or is a danger to themselves or others.
“We’re all about academic success here,” Brown said. “We want students to be successful, so the thought is we can get students into some kind of sphere of student conduct and ethical development or counseling to get them to understand what abusive consumption looks like.”
Despite pot’s firm status as an illegal substance on campus, some students suggest the possibility of establishing a hypothetical compromise.
“Maybe they [can] have dedicated locations to smoke marijuana if students need to, especially if it’s prescribed,” said Maria Moreira, second year communication studies major. “I feel like I’d be pretty pissed too if I used marijuana as medication and had to walk off campus.”
Other students are in consensus with Moreira that a regulated smoking policy and area should be acceptable.
“I think maybe during school hours or during the week or a certain time period it shouldn’t be allowed,” said Ryan Bell, sophomore human development major. “If it’s like in a certain area then it should be fine.”
But no official action can or will be taken to set up designated “smoking” grounds on campus until marijuana is no longer federally considered a Schedule I narcotic.