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Despite Decriminalization, D.C. Colleges Maintain Strict Policies On Marijuana

Marijuana possession now gets you a $25 ticket in D.C., but college students still have to worry about university anti-drug policies.
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Marijuana possession now gets you a $25 ticket in D.C., but college students still have to worry about university anti-drug policies.

Despite a new law decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana in D.C., the thousands of students that attend local universities and colleges won't be catching a break if they're caught with pot.

Due to federal anti-drug laws and the federal funding made available to many universities, officials at local universities say that they're maintaining their strict policies on marijuana possession.

"Similar to other colleges and universities within the District of Columbia and across the country, the enactment of the District of Columbia’s [decriminalization law] will not affect [the George Washington University's] prohibition of the use or possession of illegal drugs such as marijuana by students or employees of the university on or off university premises," explains Maralee Csellar, a spokeswoman for George Washington University.

"Georgetown does not have any plans to change the student code of conduct. Georgetown University complies with local and federal laws," echoes Rachel Pugh, a spokeswoman for Georgetown. Last Thursday, when the decriminalization law took effect, American University similarly tweeted that its policies on drug possession would not change.

Csellar said that the university's anti-marijuana policies could even apply if a student is cited by D.C. police under the new law and university officials catch wind of it.

"Should the circumstance arise that GW learns of a student violating federal or local laws, either on- or off-campus, the university may proceed with disciplinary action against the student for a violation of its policies," she said.

Under the decriminalization measure, anyone caught with less than an ounce of marijuana would be cited and fined $25. The violation would not make it on the person's record, though.

The city's decriminalization law also does not apply on land controlled by the federal government; roughly 22 percent of the city's land is under the federal government's jurisdiction.

The D.C. Housing Authority, which is federally funded, has also said that it is carefully navigating how to respond to the law's provisions as they relate to the thousands of D.C. residents in housing projects or receiving federally funded housing vouchers.

Disclosure: WAMU 88.5 is licensed to American University.

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