Conflict between university rules, state law on marijuana poses challenges for students


Kelly Smiley

A San Diego State student exhales after taking a hit of cannabis.

by Bella Ross, Senior Staff Writer

Four months after the implementation of Proposition 64, which legally permitted adults over 21 years old to use marijuana in the state of California, students at San Diego State spoke on their feelings towards the new policy.

“It’s more natural medicine than using pills or other narcotics that have a lot of other chemicals that mess with your brain chemistry more than marijuana does,” undeclared freshman Mikayla Howell said.

The state of California joined nine other states in legalizing recreational marijuana through a ballot measure in November 2016. However, the substance remains illegal both at the federal level and on SDSU property.

Howell, a medical marijuana card holder and dorm resident, said she would like to see this change. As somebody who has anxiety and pain from a childhood surgery, she said campus policies forbidding marijuana use in the dorms have been an inconvenience.

Kinesiology junior Nathan Florida agrees that students who need the drug for medicinal purposes should have a way they can use marijuana while on campus. Florida said he supports medicinal use of marijuana but still holds concerns regarding the potential normalization of more dangerous drugs in the future.

“The pro for it is that is available for people that need it, as in medical and psychological (uses),” Florida said. “On the other hand, it’s building a gateway to other more harmful drugs along the line to become something that’s looked at like it should be free on the market.”

As for the future of medical marijuana use on campus, change is unlikely. According to the Well-Being and Health Promotion website, the Drug-Free Schools and Community Act and the Drug-Free Workplace Act both federally prohibit SDSU from allowing drugs on campus if the university seeks to continue receiving federal funding.

Business administration graduate student Autumn Robinson said she finds it most reasonable to prohibit marijuana on campus, even in light of its legalization, due to SDSU’s commitment to maintaining a smoke-free environment.

“If it’s a non-smoking campus, they shouldn’t go back on that just because it’s legal now,” Robinson said.

Robinson said she personally has no problem with the legalization of marijuana, although she thinks marijuana use on campus could compromise the comfort of nonsmokers.

Criminal justice sophomore Ximena Violante said she found the legalization of the drug unexpected, but that she is not opposed to the new law since she said it doesn’t affect her. For those who do choose to use marijuana, she said she hopes they’re using it for the right reasons.

“If (marijuana users) are just trying to go with the trend, then I don’t think that’s smart to do,” Violante said.

Sarah Mercado, academic advisor for the Graduate Business Program said she agrees this would be something that should be looked at and considered depending on the crime committed. For Mercado, she said the most important consideration with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana is that people are using the drug safety.“I think the fact that there are still laws and controls for it is probably a good thing,” Mercado said.

Mercado said she doesn’t have any issues with the new marijuana policy. Similar to alcohol, she said people just need to be considering how to be “safe and aware” when using marijuana, especially when it comes to driving and similar activities.