Much like cities and counties, colleges and universities find themselves caught between state laws that allow medical marijuana use, and federal laws that consider cannabis a dangerous drug. The difference is that colleges and universities are getting sued over the issue — and, until marijuana is legal at the federal issue, the problem is expected to continue.
In a series of recent lawsuits, students are looking to recover tuition costs or get reinstated into degree programs, after several have gotten expelled for using legal medical marijuana. The court system has become the students’ only path to resolve the issue.
An Arizona Student Recently Sued A College After Getting Expelled
The most high-profile example of this issue involves former college student Sheida Assar, who has sued Gateway Community College in Phoenix after she was expelled for using medical marijuana. Assar, who is 31, said she used legal, medical cannabis to treat chronic pain from polycystic ovary syndrome.
She told the Associated Press that she was studying to become a diagnostic medical sonographer. She added that the cannabis only as a sleep aid, and was never under the influence of weed during the school day.
The school ended up giving her a drug test, as many schools do for those in medical professions. She failed and told the AP that she was “yanked” out of class in the middle of the day, taken to an administrative office and told she was expelled.
“They escorted me to the administration like I was a … criminal. It’s discrimination, and it also violates my rights under the Arizona medical marijuana law,” she said. Assar is seeking to recoup $2,000 in tuition expenses that she had already paid.
Connecticut, Florida Students Provide Two More Examples Of Marijuana On Campus Issue
The AP article cites two more cases that show how the issue of medical marijuana on campus is spreading to other areas. Kathryn Magner, a nursing student at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, sued the school after she failed a marijuana test, leading to her being barred from attending clinical rounds necessary for graduation.
She, too, was using medical marijuana. A judge ruled that the school must readmit her.
Also, Kaitlin McKeon is suing Nova Southeastern University in Florida for expelling her from its nursing program after she tested positive for marijuana. She has a state medical marijuana card.
Since most schools require drug tests for nursing students or other medical-related degree programs, cases with those students are the most popular.
Expect This Issue To Spread Into The Other States That Allow Medical Marijuana
Despite medical marijuana being legal in 33 states, many colleges and universities are taking a hard stance against students using products — as the examples above outline with schools in Arizona, Connecticut, and Florida.
Another example of this happening is with universities in Missouri, where, as though voters recently approved the use of medical marijuana, some schools are fighting back. The University of Missouri, Columbia College, and other schools have banned marijuana use, despite usage being legalized.
Christian Basi, a spokesperson for the University of Missouri, succinctly summed up the position of many college and university leaders in a statement to Columbia Daily Tribune:
“MU will not allow anyone to smoke, use, grow or distribute medical marijuana on campus. As a smoke-free campus, we prohibit any type of smoking on campus, and we must continue to adhere to federal law which prohibits the use, distribution or cultivation of marijuana.”