Campus Cannabis

 On April 8, 2010, the Joint Academic Senate Student Affairs Committee of Santa Monica College voted on Administrative Regulation 2430, which states: "In accordance with federal law and Board Policy 2430, possession and/or use of medical marijuana is prohibited in all property owned or controlled by the district." This regulation would make prescription marijuana illegal on campus, effectively denying students and faculty access to their state-provided right to safe, medicinal prescriptions.

The Senate approved the regulation with no opposition, justifying the measure by citing both federal and state legislation. According to the California Attorney General's "Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use," medical marijuana may not be consumed "at or within 1,000 feet of a school, recreation center, or youth center." Concerning faculty members, the same publication states, "The medical use of marijuana need not be accommodated in the workplace," and under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers may terminate employees who test positive for marijuana use.

While the Compassionate Use Act provides protection for California citizens to use marijuana under the prescription of a doctor, the California Supreme Court succinctly nips this issue in the bud, stating, "No state law could completely legalize marijuana for medical purposes because the drug remains illegal under federal law."

These federal regulations have superseded California law for years, but the clarity of SMC regulations has only recently come under scrutiny. According to the AR2430 proposal, "The need for this policy arises because of on-campus use of marijuana by a student on November 13, 2009."

Despite this infraction, SMC student Allison Borgeson argues that adult college students should have the right to state-approved medication without being ostracized. She calls the measure "absolutely unfair," and claims, "Medical marijuana is used to treat a variety of problems, from nausea to headaches to anxiety – ailments that especially affect college students." Borgeson, who take medical marijuana for stomach problems, contends that "about half this school" legally smokes marijuana, and that these students should only be as limited as students who smoke cigarettes.

This Administrative Regulation – and others like it – has polarized marijuana-supporting communities. While many marijuana advocates are fighting to convince Congress that marijuana should be treated like any other pharmaceutical, others support legislation that would allow marijuana to be universally legalized, making it as recreationally available as alcohol or tobacco. While deliberation continues on the scope of marijuana's legalization, supporters throughout the spectrum agree that the federal government currently has too much control over the matter.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Legalization – the pro-pot lobby that recently won a spot on the ballot with its recreational marijuana legalization bill – says that medical doctors, not the federal government, should have the last word about what kinds of prescriptions their patients are taking. Despite federal law enforcement, eleven states have legalized medical marijuana, and St. Pierre claims this "underscores the need for Congress to amend federal law to recognize cannabis' therapeutic utility," especially in the face of contrary medical evidence.

St. Pierre added, "With 80 percent of Americans, as well as numerous health organizations in favor of legalizing the physician-supervised use of medicinal cannabis, it's time for the federal government to butt out of doctors' decisions regarding which medicine is the most safe and effective for their patients."