By Leslie Hassanein, news staff
The Massachusetts marijuana legalization initiative may be passed on Nov. 8, but college campuses that receive federal funding would not be affected.
Institutions that receive federal funding are bound by the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989, which states that any institution receiving federal funding must establish a drug and alcohol abuse prevention program. Therefore marijuana use on campus would be illegal.
Federal law considers the sale and use of illegal drugs a serious crime and, depending on the offense, a student caught with marijuana could face community service, fines or imprisonment.
The initiative would legalize marijuana for recreational purposes and allow it to be regulated like the distribution of alcohol.
“Students not being able to smoke on campus isn’t completely unreasonable,” said Azra Vrevic, a senior business management major at UMass Boston. “Marijuana is easily accessible and almost as common as smoking cigarettes. Smoking cigarettes in certain areas on campus is prohibited, so I guess marijuana just falls into that category.”
The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution outlines the disciplinary repercussions of marijuana use at Northeastern in the Student Handbook.
The student handbook states that students caught using marijuana on campus may find themselves ineligible for federal student grants and loans and may be prevented from entering certain professions.
“It only makes sense that Northeastern wouldn’t allow drug use, I mean they’re federally funded, and marijuana is still illegal on the federal level,” said Josh Irish, a Northeastern sophomore entrepreneurship major.
According to the Northeastern University 2016 National College Health Assessment, 78 percent of Northeastern students have not used marijuana in the past month.
John Pritchard, a Northeastern professor of economics, said he is in support of the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts.
“It makes sense to try and legalize marijuana given high cost, failure and implications of justice,” he said. “If it’s regulated by the state, it can be appropriately taxed, which will reduce overall consumption and help raise revenue for future healthcare costs associated with marijuana use.”
Wesley Rivera, a junior biochemical engineering major at Boston University, said the initiative could bring about beneficial restrictions.
“I don’t personally smoke, but I know people who have smoked some bad stuff in the past,” he said. “Legalizing it might cut down on that sort of thing and make it a little safer.”
Photo courtesy Rafael Castillo, Creative Commons