California resident Rachel Oda PO ‘20 voted in the election, and cast a ‘Yes’ ballot on Proposition 64, which legalized the use of recreational marijuana for California residents over the age of 21. She defended her vote by saying that marijuana was already partially legal through medical use and that “our government might as well take advantage of it and tax it.”
The proposition would take advantage of the use of marijuana by collecting taxes to pay for education and infrastructure projects throughout the state. These recreational sales cannot legally begin until Jan. 1, 2018.
However, even though marijuana is legal in the state of California, college policy towards the substance remains the same.
“Pomona College still adheres to Federal guidelines around marijuana, as it currently does in the case of medical marijuana. In addition, Pomona College remains a smoke-free campus,” Pomona’s Associate Dean of Students and Dean of Campus Life Christopher Waugh wrote in an email to TSL.
When reached for comment, other colleges echoed Waugh’s statements for their own policies.
Leslie Hughes, Harvey Mudd College’s Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, said that HMC will adhere to federal guidelines since the school receives federal funding.
Similarly, the offices of the deans of students of Pitzer College, Claremont Mckenna College, and Scripps College confirmed that their policies would not change—recreational marijuana is still prohibited.
Pomona’s Student Affairs Committee, chaired by Paul Cahill, Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, and consisting of students, staff, and faculty, would be in charge of any changes in policy.
Professor Cahill wrote in an email to TSL that like Pomona, “private peer institutions in states that also legalized marijuana have maintained the same policies they had before marijuana was legalized in their state.”
Cahill offered up examples such as Colorado College in Colorado and Whitman College in Washington.
Waugh wrote that “in the instance of the new state law, no policy changes were necessary.”
One such example of substance policy is the points system at Pomona. Currently, any Pomona student will get five “points” for the use or possession of marijuana, four for a first offense, while alcohol possession or consumption will net students three to four points. After a certain amount of points, the school takes punitive action against the students, ranging from counseling to residential probation. This system is in its first year, replacing a fine-based system, which was less harsh towards marijuana use.
Oda hopes that the college will treat marijuana use in a similar way to alcohol use, but Waugh wrote that the only way the policy will change is with a change in federal guidelines.
“I anticipate an adjustment would be considered only in the instance of a change in Federal guidelines,” Waugh wrote.