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Up in Smoke

Cal State LA Housing leaves Marijuana at the door.

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Anthony Karambelas, Staff Reporter

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Like it or not, California is going green, and that is not in regard to the environment. While Cal State LA, currently prohibits the cultivation, distribution and use of marijuana, many believe California state laws should ‘pot’ this steadfast rule.

Federal law places heavy fines on marijuana, punishable by upwards of one year in jail and a minimum $1,000 fine, and that’s just for first-time convictions. Second-time convicts will receive a minimum sentence of fifteen days in prison with a maximum of two years. Their fine also increases to as high as $2,500.

Many schools still rely on federal funding (Cal State LA is no exception), so complying with the government is essential to institutions’ longevity. This means that a federally-compliant campus must adopt drug prevention programs even when the laws of their state are relaxed toward marijuana use.

“Here’s the issue, we are a State University, so we receive federal funding and Title IV governs student financial aid. Now, marijuana is not legal federally. As long as it’s illegal federally, it will always be against our policy,” said Rebecca Palmer, Director of Housing and Residence Life.

Being a public institution, the California State University (CSU) relies heavily on funding from the state, which in turn receives extensive federal funding from the government. In 2015 alone, California received $368 billion in federal funds, making it an extremely dependent state. By disobeying federal marijuana regulations, the CSU could threaten their main source of revenue.

Besides funding to the CSU, the U.S. Department of Education also provides financial aid through Title IV funding, which many students rely on to pay for their tuition.

At its core, Cal State LA housing is an entirely separate entity from the campus, however it still holds students accountable for violations of campus policy. So, while state laws permitting marijuana use may influence the smoke-free, anti-marijuana regulations that student housing abides by, it can affect something else: the Clery report.

The federal Jeanne Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to release an Annual Security Report in which they detail crime statistics from the preceding three years. These violations can range from sexual assault to illegal alcohol consumption. Now that California has legalized marijuana, Cal State LA housing is no longer required to report incidents of under-21 marijuana use.

“When medicinal marijuana became legal, then we did not count in our Clery report any case where somebody stated that they had a medical marijuana card. Now, that it’s legal recreationally for folks over twenty-one, we count it like alcohol. So if they’re under twenty-one and using, we count that in our Clery report,” said Palmer.

With marijuana usage in college increasing as a result of relaxed state laws, the concern of its effects has prompted research.

A study published in PLOS One –a peer-reviewed journal released by the Public Library of Science–shows that students who consume alcohol and marijuana yield significantly lower GPAs than those who abstain. Students consuming little, moderate, or heavy dosages over a two-year period all suffered extreme academic losses, with one major correlation: the higher the dosage, the lower the GPA.

“Supplementary results also suggest that moderating or curtailing substance use while in college might help improving academic GPA,” read the report.

With the potential onset of marijuana use in dorms, these drawbacks could potentially pose major problems to students.

“I’m not pro and I’m not against. I think it’s an individual choice. I do have a belief that if it’s not helping you get towards your degree completion, why are you doing it?” said Palmer. “But if you feel the need, that you need to have this in your life, for whatever reason, then I need you to live off campus.”

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1 Comment

One Response to “Up in Smoke”

  1. Marley Diaz on November 28th, 2017 1:49 pm

    I’m sorry to whoever Palmer is, but some people use marijuana for anxiety, depression, stress (which college does to us) so saying “you need to live off campus” is a bit insensitive. Marijuana is also good for PTSD, cancer, eating disorders, etc. It would be naive to think no one living in housing has these conditions. Not only this, there are students on this campus taking opioids, Xanax, Zoloft, and other prescription medication that is extremely harmful to the body. Marijuana is way less harmful than these substances. But hey if you’d rather have kids popping pills for their illness than go ahead.

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