What Amendment 64 means for CU-Boulder

December 12, 2012

BY PHILIP P. DISTEFANO

As of this week, as a function of the passage of Amendment 64, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has signed into law the proclamation that legalizes the personal possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Colorado. The law does not permit public use of marijuana by anyone under any circumstances, and allows possession only for those over the age of 21.

The new constitutional provision will not take effect until the Colorado Department of Revenue has created and disseminated regulations. The Governor has created a task force to determine and assess the legal and policy issues involved and to help develop those regulations. Until that time, there may be confusion across the state, and within our campus community, as to what this new constitutional amendment will mean when actually implemented.

Given some of the confusion about precisely what Amendment 64 means for CU, here is what I want people to know. The University has not enacted any new or more restrictive regulations on marijuana than have previously existed on campus and the same provisions are relevant now as were relevant before Amendment 64. Further, the Amendment does not permit anyone under the age of 21 to possess or use marijuana, and again, these activities are prohibited on campus in any event.

However, let me underscore that the safety of the campus community – its students, staff, and faculty – are of the utmost concern to me. The reports this weekend that a CU-Boulder faculty member and students were provided with marijuana-brownies in a history class last Friday without their knowledge or consent are deeply disturbing and totally unacceptable. This reckless and irresponsible act flies in the face of the trust that is necessary for a community of scholarship and learning such as ours, and endangers the health of our community. Our campus police have filed felony charges in this matter after eight people were sickened and three – two students and a faculty member – were briefly hospitalized.

The University of Colorado Boulder has a long-standing prohibition regarding the use and distribution of illegal substances, including marijuana, in campus facilities, on campus grounds and in our residence halls. The full policy can be found here: http://hr.colorado.edu/pages/alcohol-and-drug-policy.aspx.   The Student Code of Conduct prohibits CU students from providing, possessing, using, manufacturing, distributing, or selling drugs, which includes marijuana.  Amendment 64 does not change either prohibition.

In addition, through the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, federal law requires that institutions of higher education receiving federal funds effectively prevent the possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs by all students and employees on the premises of the institution. As marijuana is considered an illegal drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and because CU-Boulder is a recipient of federal funds, the university is bound to prohibit its use, possession, and distribution on campus. As long as we comply with the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, which we fully intend to do, our federal funding is not at risk regardless of Amendment 64 being signed into law.

We are awaiting clarification from state and federal legal authorities about any conflicts between state and federal law in this area.  As further developments arise related to this legal issue, please know that my office will provide you with period updates and information resources. In the mean time, you have my best wishes for a safe and productive end to the semester and for safe and prosperous winter holidays.

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