Kinks Remain Under Legal Weed

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With the passage of marijuana reform in Washington and Colorado, these states are left in an awkward position: how to integrate state law with existing federal law.

The basic problem is that, while now legal under state statute, marijuana possession and use remains a felony under federal law.

Particularly Problematic for College Students

The conflict becomes apparent anywhere that federal regulations integrate with activities in the state. For example, a recent article on MSN talks about the difficulty faced by universities. Students over 21 have all the legal rights to smoke marijuana as other state residents, but many are prohibited to do so on campus. Why? Because universities take federal grant money and they fear allowing marijuana will adversely affect this.

But it’s even worse for college students. An arrest for marijuana is treated the same as any other drug offense when it comes to applying for federal student loans or grants. This is particularly ironic since college aged voters were a significant factor in getting the law passed.

Other Issues

Other areas where conflict emerges are employers who are either federally funded or licensed. Someone holding a federal license is still subject to restrictions and censure for marijuana use.

It remains to be seen just how these new laws will be handled by the Department of Justice. Currently, state level enforcement has fallen away, with police in most jurisdictions simply turning a blind eye to small quantities of marijuana, even though the laws haven’t officially gone into effect. Their stance seems to be, “Why make an arrest that will just get thrown out of court by the new year?”

None of this would keep a student from getting expelled for pot. According to the article, “The Drug Free Schools and Communities Act requires that any university receiving federal funds adopt a program to prevent use of illicit drugs by students and employees, much in the same way other federal funding for law enforcement and transportation comes with clauses stipulating that recipients maintain drug-free workplaces.”

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