Arizona Universities Decide Whether Marijuana Is Allowed On Campus


A recent court ruling is allowing Arizona colleges and universities to ban medical marijuana on campuses, but legislators cannot make it a crime. The medical marijuana law approved by Arizona voters in 2010 permitted cardholders to possess small amounts of marijuana, but it banned possession in prisons and schools.

The recent ruling struck down a 2012 decision by the Legislature to expand the off-limits list by adding college and university campuses. However, the Court of Appeals ruling said colleges and universities can still forbid possession of medical marijuana under their own rules. It said the 2012 move by the state to forbid marijuana on campuses violated the Arizona Constitution’s protections for voter-approved laws.

Expanding the list of places where medical marijuana is banned doesn’t “further the purpose” of the voter-approved medical marijuana law and even “eliminates some of its protections,” Judge Peter Swann wrote in the ruling. The decision overturned a medical marijuana cardholder’s 2015 conviction for possession of a small quantity of pot in his Arizona State University dorm room.

ASU police found the man’s marijuana card in his wallet and got a warrant to search his room after the man was arrested while sitting on a campus street. Authorities say the man told an officer he had marijuana in his room. Spokesman Ryan Anderson said the Arizona attorney general’s office was disappointed by the recent ruling, but had not decided whether to appeal it to the state Supreme Court.

The state had argued that permitting marijuana use on campuses would jeopardize federal funding for colleges and universities. However, the ruling said the state and other landowners still can regulate what items or materials are taken onto their property, so a person violating an educational institution’s restrictions could be removed from the property or charged with trespassing.

Swann wrote, “If the state finds it necessary to protect federal funding by prohibiting medical marijuana on public college and university campuses, then the medical marijuana law does not stop it from creating such policies. Nor does the law prohibit the Legislature from enacting non-criminal statutes to ensure the absence of medical marijuana on college and university campuses.”


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