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What Happens if You get Caught With Marijuana on Campus?

By September 12, 2022September 25th, 2023No Comments

If you are caught with marijuana on a college campus, you will be penalized. 

It does not matter that recreational marijuana is being legalized in one state after another with each passing year. The bottom line is marijuana is still categorized by the federal government as a Schedule I drug. Colleges will not allow students to use marijuana on campus as they fear losing their federal funding. If a college were to permit marijuana use on campus, there is a good chance the federal government would strip that educational institution of all its federal financial support.

Read on to learn from our DC Student Defense attorneys what getting caught with marijuana could mean for you.

Penalties for Marijuana use on Campus 

Each college and university has its own unique penalties for marijuana use on campus

Plenty of post-secondary educational institutions are willing to remove students caught with marijuana from campus. Some such students are suspended while others are expelled. Even fairly liberal college campuses have harsh penalties for marijuana use on campus. 

If you are caught with marijuana on campus or accused of possession/use, reach out to DC Student Defense for assistance. 

The Issue of Enforcement 

Plenty of colleges and universities have fairly strict anti-marijuana policies yet there is the looming question of whether those policies will actually be enforced. 

Some colleges do not actually enforce the rules pertaining to marijuana as detailed in their policies as they typically consider marijuana use to be a lesser offense when compared to rape, hazing, and other criminal acts performed on campus. 

What About the Use of Medical Marijuana on Campus?

Those who have a prescription for medical marijuana are in more of a grey area when it comes to marijuana use on campus. This may include medical marijuana prescriptions for any of the following:

  • Pain,
  • Glaucoma,
  • Multiple sclerosis,
  • Or another health ailment

Though universities and colleges can certainly punish such students for using medical marijuana on campus, there is the potential for a legal backlash.

In general, colleges do not permit the use of medical marijuana even if the student has gone to the trouble of obtaining a prescription for it. 

However, it is interesting to note the tide may be shifting. In 2019, an Arizona court of appeals overturned a state law that had criminalized the use of medical marijuana on college campuses.

The moral of this story is you should not use marijuana on a college campus even if you have a script. Colleges and universities have the legal right to establish their own rules regarding marijuana, alcohol, and other drug use on campus.

Do Not Count on Colleges Changing With the Times 

Though the general public is more open to the legalization of marijuana, it is unlikely colleges will change their stance toward marijuana use on campus in the near future. 

Any post-secondary institution that receives federal funding and violates the Controlled Substances Act and the Drug-Free Schools and Community Act runs the risk of losing vitally important federal funding. Such funding is necessary for institutions of higher education to remain financially viable. 

Instead of embracing marijuana use, colleges and universities are likely to do the exact opposite. Look for local colleges to double down on their compliance and enforcement of federal marijuana laws. Even if the federal government removes marijuana from its current classification as a Schedule I drug, it will still likely be against school rules to use it on campus.

After all, marijuana smoke can move through air ducts within residence halls and spread to other non-smokers, resulting in a contact high. This is precisely why we can assume that marijuana use on campus will continue to be barred.

Caught With Marijuana on Campus? Contact DC Student Defense Right Away 

If you are caught using or possessing marijuana on a college campus, it is in your interest to find an experienced criminal defense attorney. The support of a savvy lawyer has the potential to make the difference between a permanent campus ban and the opportunity to continue your post-secondary education while living on campus. Your fate hangs in the balance. Do not delay reaching out to DC Student Defense for assistance. Give our law firm a call today to schedule an initial consultation where we will review the details of your specific case.  


These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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