Until the federal government changes their stance on cannabis, states that legalize within their own borders will always find conflict with the laws – and that can be tricky to navigate. It’s for this reason that cannabis businesses are often cash-only or have industry-created payment solutions that bypass the need for traditional financial institutions. It’s also for this reason that even in states where cannabis is legal, there is a lot of conflict as to whether the plant is legal on the campuses of schools who receive federal funding.
In Michigan – where cannabis was recently legalized in the mid-term election – several schools, including Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Wayne State University of Detroit and Central Michigan University, have all announced that the change in state law will not change their school’s policies.
“We would like to remind everyone that this new state law will not change policies prohibiting the use or possession of marijuana on any property owned or managed by MSU, and by MSU’s faculty, staff, or students on any MSU property or during off-campus MSU business or events,” Denise Maybank, vice president and associate provost at Michigan State University in East Lansing, wrote in a memo to students, faculty and staff Monday evening.
When legalization laws are passed by voters, the expectation is usually for cannabis to be treated and regulated in a fashion similar to alcohol. So it stands to reason that many voters who are in college would expect to soon be able to legally consume cannabis on campus. However, some are looking at the cannabis ban on campuses as being similar to tobacco-free schools, who don’t allow cigarette smoking on campus. It’s a fine line to walk – but it appears that rather than risk losing any federal funding, just about all Michigan universities and colleges will be “cannabis-free” campuses (as much as they ever were, at least).
“The new state law will not change University of Michigan policy or federal law, both of which prohibit the possession and use of marijuana on university premises, and in the conduct of university business away from campus,” U-M said in a statement. “As a recipient of federal funds, U-M is required by federal law to maintain drug-free campuses and workplaces. Those federal laws take precedence over state law.”
Chances are that until the federal government makes a change, cannabis will remain a banned substance on college campuses in most cases – just like banks will continue to stay away from cannabis businesses. Until there is a guarantee that there will be no repercussions, no matter how many states legalize cannabis, these issues appear unlikely to change.