Will Quinnipiac allow weed on campus as Connecticut legalizes it? The answer is no

Chatwan Mongkol, News Editor

Quinnipiac University will continue to ban both medical and recreational marijuana usage on campus in accordance with federal law, despite recent legalization at the state level.

As the university is receiving federal government funding, including student financial aid, it must abide by federal laws. Otherwise, it would risk losing the funding.

Connor Lawless

The decades-old federal Drug Free Schools and Communities Act prohibits the unlawful possession, use and distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol on institutional premises or as part of any of its activities. Marijuana is federally illegal, therefore, it is not allowed on Quinnipiac’s properties and all of its sponsored events.

Associate Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan confirmed this.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed the regulation of adult-use cannabis bill into law on June 22, which makes the possession of 1.5 ounces of marijuana — or more in locked containers — legal after July 1. Under the law, the state would develop regulatory and licensing processes for retail products by halfway through 2022.

The General Assembly passed the bill after several debates in the House and the Senate. Connecticut became the 19th state in the country to allow recreational marijuana. However, the state already legalized cannabis for medical purposes in 2012.

Senior psychology major Helen Neforos said Quinnipiac should not adjust its policy on marijuana use, otherwise, it would mean that the university does not care about students’ safety. 

“As a mind-altering substance, even if it is one of the more harmless (varieties), it is still an illicit substance and people will abuse and use it as a scapegoat whenever they get into trouble,” Neforos said.

In addition, she said the university is responsible for underage students. The law sets the legal age for recreational marijuana use at 21.

“Quinnipiac is in charge of keeping us safe and ensuring our overall well being,” Neforos said. “Parents are expecting that. (Quinnipiac doesn’t) have the same liberties as majority communities in my opinion.”

According to the 2020 Clery report, Quinnipiac reported 517 drug law violations in 2017-19, in which 25 cases led to arrests.

Not all students agree with Neforos’s view, senior psychology major Rebecca Seigel said it is a good idea to also allow the use of marijuana on college campuses.

“As a personal marijuana smoker myself, since it is (legal) now in both New Jersey and Connecticut, I use it for my anxiety and recreational use, which the school should leave up to the discretion of the user and not have a ban or rule against it,” Seigel said.

Similar to the university’s rules for alcohol, Seigel said students of age should be able to buy or use recreational or medical marijuana.

Junior international business major Ben Lowenfels also said Quinnipiac should adjust its policy because issues and problems would arise with enforcing these rules.

“It will cost Quinnipiac more money to try to enforce that than allowing it in my opinion,” Lowenfels said. “I think that if Quinnipiac doesn’t allow the use of marijuana then the student body will have a hard time trying to respect these rules because the state is legalized.”

However, as the university must follow federal law, Lowenfels said it should allow the use of marijuana once the federal government fully legalizes it nationwide, which he does not think would happen in the next five years.

“I personally do not think that marijuana is ready to be legalized at the federal level yet,” Lowenfels said. “There are too many factors that deny the opinion of legalization federally at the moment.”

Factors he mentioned include taxes and retail and distribution regulations. Although it is difficult at the federal level, Lowenfels anticipates more states legalizing cannabis in the coming years.

On the other hand, Seigel said the United States is ready for federal legalization of marijuana as she said it will lower the low-tier crime rate, create jobs and generate more tax money that would further contribute to other areas.

“I overall see more beneficial outcomes than negative outcomes when legalizing marijuana federally,” Seigel said.

In April, the Quinnipiac University Poll found that 69% of Americans think the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States. It noted that this marked the highest record in terms of national support for the legalization since it started to poll about the issue in December 2012.