UMass to continue campus ban on all uses of marijuana; Greenfield Community College studies issue

Last modified: Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The University of Massachusetts Amherst will continue to ban all marijuana use, medical or otherwise, on university property under the Code of Student Conduct, despite the state’s legalization of the drug for medicinal purposes.

Many colleges and universities will continue to ban all uses of marijuana because federal law still classifies it as an illegal drug. Schools say they fear losing federal student financial aid if they allow medical marijuana use.

According to the UMass code, “The use, possession and/or cultivation of marijuana for medical or recreational use is prohibited on all university property. UMass Amherst will continue to enforce its controlled substance policy.”

Spokesman Edward F. Blaguszewski said, “Essentially, we don’t allow for medical marijuana use on campus based on federal law.”

He added, “Most colleges and universities follow the federal standard that we follow. Otherwise, student financial aid could be in jeopardy. That’s our interpretation based on our understanding of the law.”

University Health Services reports that there have not been any complaints about lack of access to medical marijuana on campus. Neither has there been a request for a prescription for it, Blaguszewski said.

Students caught with marijuana on the Amherst campus would be charged and cited, and the dean of students office would be notified for a hearing.

GCC developing policy

Meanwhile, Greenfield Community College is working to develop a policy on whether to allow marijuana for medicinal purposes on campus by the spring. A medical marijuana dispensary has been proposed for downtown Greenfield.

The school does not now have a policy medical marijuana use. The Student Development Committee, which reviews policy and procedure at the college, will take up the issue this year and have a policy in place by the spring, said Judy Raper, director of student development.

In the meantime, students who do have certification from a doctor can consult the Student Affairs Office, which would determine on a case-by-case basis whether the student can use the marijuana on campus, Raper said.

There have not yet been any concerns expressed by students or requests for a prescription, Raper said.

Raper declined comment about the possibility of losing federal funds if GCC does allow medical marijuana use.

Non-medicinal use of marijuana remains prohibited, in accordance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, Raper said. And students caught using the substance would be subject to criminal charges and a student disciplinary hearing. Faculty members found distributing, possessing or using any controlled substance on campus would face disciplinary actions, up to and including termination.

One medical marijuana dispensary hopeful, Patriot Care Corp., has proposed opening a facility at the American Legion building in Greenfield.

A medical marijuana dispensary planned for 118 Conz St. in Northampton is on hold after questions were raised about the educational credentials of the former executive director of New England Treatment Access Inc. which would operate the facility. Kevin Fisher, resigned from that job Saturday and acknowledged that he had included erroneous information on his resume.