New policy language regarding marijuana use on Pomona College’s campus went into effect April 8. The new wording explicitly states that any form of marijuana use is not allowed on Pomona’s campus, regardless of previous approval for medical marijuana usage, and it also clarifies that legally prescribed drugs are allowed for personal use by the student to whom they were prescribed. Pomona’s Student Affairs Committee (SAC) proposed changes in January after a comment period further revised the policy.
According to an e-mail sent to Pomona students by Vice President and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum, the handbook now states, “Pomona complies with Federal law regarding the use and possession of marijuana; therefore, marijuana use on campus is prohibited even if the student’s use meets the qualifications of the California Compassionate Use Act.”
It goes on to say that this means that no students are exempt from the drug policy and that those who qualify for medical marijuana usage may apply to live off campus through the Dean of Campus Life.
Prior to the addition of this language, the policy did not explicitly discuss medical marijuana but did ban marijuana possession, distribution, and usage on campus and said that the college complies with state, federal, and local laws concerning drug use.
Under the California Compassionate Use Act, it is legal for patients to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use after receiving approval from a physician. Those who qualify can obtain a Medical Marijuana Identification Card, which serves as proof of their physician approval. However, under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, marijuana possession is a misdemeanor, and its cultivation is a felony.
Dean of Campus Life and SAC member Ric Townes said that recent discussion regarding marijuana legislation brought up questions on campus, so it became important to clarify the policy.
“In some instances, when a student was written up for smoking in their room, they’ve presented a card and said, ‘I have a card, I have the legal right to do this.’ Which they do, but they don’t have the right to do it on college property,” Townes said. “At the end of the day, it is a federal law that the college has no choice in following.”
Townes said that students have been generally accepting of the policy and that they understand that “the college can’t condone a violation of the federal law just because the college chooses to.”
Six comments were received regarding the initial changes proposed, mostly regarding the clarity of the policy’s wording, according to Townes.
Pomona’s new wording is similar to that of Claremont McKenna College’s policy, added to the Alcohol and Other Drug Policy for the 2012-2013 year, which also states that marijuana use is prohibited regardless of medical marijuana usage approval.
In an e-mail to TSL, CMC Dean of Students Mary Spellman wrote, “Students are often confused by conflict between California law and Federal law and we felt it was important to provide clarity up front in the policy.”
Harvey Mudd College, on the other hand, does not explicitly mention medical marijuana in its drug policy.
“We don’t have anything that addresses it because we pretty closely follow the federal regulations, which don’t address it at all,” said HMC Senior Associate Dean of Students Guy Gerbick. “It would be prohibited on campus; there is no exception made for medical marijuana.”
“We’ve had conversations on campus and within the Dean of Students Office about medical marijuana, but it pretty clearly is that we would not make any exceptions,” Gerbick said.
The Scripps College and Pitzer College drug and alcohol policies published online from 2012-2013 also do not mention medical marijuana specifically, but they state that they follow federal law regarding marijuana use.