Wednesday, February 29, 2012

California Colleges Are Not Medical Marijuana-Friendly

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge A real fork in the road
  • A real fork in the road

For some, cannabis and college may go together like beer and college, or massive debt and college (and if you manage to show up to 8 a.m. lectures reeking more of Cypress Hill than frat row, points for diversity, anyway).  

This is not the case in California, at least not when talking medical marijuana and California's state-funded colleges and universities.

Students mixing Plato with pot or sines with sensimilia are fixing for a world-class reality check: California State University has a system-wide zero-tolerance policy for marijuana of any kind, an official said.

The atmosphere at the University of California is slightly more relaxed -- there, administrators may be willing to "accommodate" students in serious need of medication -- but at either system a free lesson in state versus federal jurisdiction awaits the uninitiated, along with a paddling from the administration.

In other parts of the country, state-legal medical marijuana is unwelcome on state-funded land-grant colleges and universities for the nebulous claim that "federal funding" is at risk if an alternate tack is taken. This is the reasoning given by authorities at the University of Arizona. In Colorado, a university spokesman said medical marijuana isn't welcome simply because it's an "attractive nuisance."

In the Rocky Mountain state, at least, university officials allowed a freshman who wanted to use medical marijuana to be released from the requirement that he live on campus. A similar attitude may be found at the University of California system, according to Jerlena Griffin-Desta, director of student services for the 10-campus UC system.

While the UC "would never implement a policy going against a federal law," a UC student desiring to use medical marijuana might find him or herself "accommodated," Griffin-Desta said.

"If a student has demonstrated through documentation that this is something they must have, the university will work with the student to find reasonable accommodations," she said. For example, a student could be released from a housing contract without incurring further penalties. Or the university might even help them find somewhere else to live. And as for the student wishing to medicate discretely using edibles, sprays, or tinctures, "we don't monitor what students eat anyway," Griffin-Desta told SF Weekly.

The situation's a bit more draconian at the 23 California State University campuses, according to spokesman Michael Uhlenkamp.

"There is a zero-tolerance policy," he said. Zero tolerance means no accommodations -- and no exceptions. CSU schools, including San Francisco State University, act thusly because otherwise they "could potentially lose federal funding in the form of financial aid," Uhlenkamp said.

And that's a legitimate point, but probably more so for the students, who stand to lose financial aid if convicted of simple crimes like drug possession. That's if the university police or other authority figures choose to go that route -- and determining when and if a wee spliff is simply tossed away or tossed into a permanent record appears mostly arbitrary, according to Boris Berenberg, president of the San Jose State chapter of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.

"The police on campus have bigger issues to worry about (ongoing sexual assault issues and multiple homicides last year)," Berenberg wrote in an e-mail, adding that "a high number" of students on campus have recommendations from a doctor for medical marijuana. "But if the police are called for marijuana related issues then the outcome seems to depend highly on the mood of the officers involved."

Students routinely lose housing or scholarships for simple possession, which doesn't seem sensible, Berenberg said: "We understand that the school has an obligation to the entire student body, and risking losing federal funding is dangerous in a time when budgets are already tight." That said, he continued, CSU students are more than willing to donate their time to find a mutually beneficial solution.

In other words, they want to use marijuana and pay to go to school. Rebels!

It's possible that private colleges less reliant on federal handouts could take a more liberal attitude toward medical cannabis. We wish we could tell you for sure: Requests for comment sent to Lisa Lapin, a spokeswoman for Stanford University, were not returned.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly  


  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.