College dorms ban use of medical marijuana

Denver attorney Tae Darnell talks to convention-goers Saturday at the Colorado Cannabis Convention in Denver. He was one of several attorneys on site who provided legal advice on marijuana issues.

A statewide jump in medical marijuana card applications doesn’t seem to have affected college students much when it comes to living in residence halls.

The majority of Colorado’s four-year public institutions require students, with few exceptions, to live on-campus their first one or two years. None of them allows medical marijuana cardholders to smoke marijuana in residence halls.

Mesa State College is one of those schools, requiring freshmen and sophomores under the age of 21 who don’t live with a parent or spouse in Mesa County to live in a college residence hall. In those halls, it’s against college policy to smoke or store marijuana, whether it’s used for medical reasons or not, according to John Marshall, the college’s vice president for student services.

“It’s simply not something we can accommodate,” he said.

Marijuana, tobacco, alcohol and nonprescription drugs are all banned from Mesa State residence halls. Medical marijuana is not addressed separately from marijuana in general in the student housing guide, but Marshall said that would be remedied by the fall.

So far, no students have asked the college to be released from the freshman and sophomore requirement to live on campus so they can use a medical marijuana card off-campus, Marshall said. But some schools have experienced that, including the University of Colorado at Boulder.

CU Director of Residence Life Paula Bland said she is not sure exactly how many students at the school have asked to have their housing deposit returned so they can use medical marijuana. But it has happened a handful of times this year, she said.

“It’s probably more this year than it was last year. Last year we just started seeing students have medical marijuana cards,” she said.

Bland said all of the requests came midyear, when a student already had been living in a residence hall and wanted to move out.

Fort Lewis College spokesman Mitch Davis said he wouldn’t be surprised if the college received some requests from cardholders to live off-campus, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Colorado State University spokesman Brad Bohlander and University of Northern Colorado spokesman Nate Haas said they haven’t heard of any students on their campuses asking to live off-campus to use medical marijuana.

As of Sept. 30, the average age of a medical marijuana patient was 40, according to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The department reported at that time Mesa County had the 10th largest amount of cardholders in the state.


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