Marijuana still illegal on University of Maine campus, even after recreational legalization in Maine

After a referendum passed by voters in November and cleared by a signature from Gov. Paul LePage last month, recreational marijuana is officially legal in Maine.

On Jan. 3, the Maine Secretary of State office tweeted, “We have received the signed proclamation for Question 1, dated Dec. 31 from the Governor’s office. Becomes law in 30 days from signed date.”

As of Jan. 30, recreational marijuana is legal in Maine. The law states that you have to be 21 or older to possess up to 2.5 ounces, you can’t use marijuana in public and you can’t buy it from non-dispensaries, but you can grow your own. It also prohibits the consumption of marijuana while in a vehicle in operation.

Maine joined seven other states and the District of Columbia legalizing marijuana for recreational use, despite federal prohibitions on the drug.

The federal government still outlaws marijuana and classifies it as a Schedule 1 substance alongside drugs like heroin, even though Department of Justice guidelines have discouraged prosecuting operations that adhere to state law.

The University of Maine is a smoke free campus and the same penalties will apply for having marijuana on school grounds.

Robert Dana, the vice president for student life at the University of Maine said, “Nothing will change here.”

Chief Roland LaCroix of the University of Maine Police Department said, “The majority of our students are under 21, which is still illegal in the state of Maine. Marijuana is still a federal law so it will not be allowed on campus.”

The University of Maine has its policy on illegal drugs on their website. It states, “The possession, use, manufacture, or distribution of illegal drugs (heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD, steroids, etc.) are prohibited at any time on University property and as part of any University activities. Employees and students known to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute illegal drugs are liable to public law-enforcement actions and University disciplinary actions.”

UMaine Student Life also sent out an information sheet to university students answering various questions about the new law. A medical marijuana patient asked if they could use it on campus.

The answer is no. The Drug-Free Schools and Community Act and the Drug-Free Workplace Act do not distinguish medical and non-medical use. UMaine, like all colleges and universities, prohibits any marijuana use, regardless of medical status.
Vice President Dana sent out a campus wide email addressed to students. It said, “With the passage of Question 1, Maine Marijuana Legalization, we want students to be aware that although recreational marijuana use is legal in the State of Maine, it is still prohibited for use and possession by University of Maine policy and federal law. The University of Maine, like all colleges and universities, is held to two federal laws, the Drug-Free Schools and Community Act and the Drug-Free Workplace Act.”
These laws state that in order to receive any federal funding, which includes work-study, financial aid and federal research grants, the university must prohibit all illegal drugs.

Since marijuana is still illegal under federal law, it remains an illegal substance to possess, sell or use which is why UMaine must therefore continue to prohibit its use, possession or sale on campus.

Off-campus housing for the university has also sent out reminders that the use or distribution of marijuana is still illegal in the lease that they signed.

Management from the brand new apartment complex, The Avenue, sent out an email that said, “We just wanted to address some questions we have received regarding marijuana as it became legal here in Maine last week. Per the lease, you are not allowed to smoke at all in your units (smoking of any kind). You are also not allowed to grow marijuana in your apartment as you signed a “Drug and Crime Free Agreement” as part of your lease agreement…The distribution, sale, use, cultivation and possession of marijuana is illegal under the U.S. Federal Controlled Substances Act. Federal law supersedes any State law. If you violate the lease, you can face fines and/or be evicted.”

Chief LaCroix says they haven’t had any problems yet with the new law in effect on campus.

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