The college’s policy complies with the Federal Drug Free Schools and Communities Act. Any violation of the regulation could result in the school’s inability to participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s financial aid programs.
“Stonehill College is a private institution that receives federal funding,” Director of Community Standards Brandon W. White said. “The school must follow the federal guideline.”
Stonehill College General Counsel Thomas V. Flynn said the need to comply with federal guidelines is the underlying reason why students with a legitimate medical reason for having a medical marijuana prescription cannot use the drug on campus.
“I think students need to understand that the college is taking the position that it is still a controlled substance under federal law and it can’t be used on campus. So, the distinction of a prescription under state law isn’t going to make a difference of how we interpret it under federal law.”
On the national level, 22 per- cent of college students currently use drugs, with marijuana being the most prevalent, according to a recent report by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health. The question is: will this number go up once doctors start prescribing marijuana to students?
“I don’t think we’re worried about it,” Flynn said. “I think we’ll obviously be vigilant and keep an eye on things like we always do.”
White also said administrators are not concerned.
“We might see an increase, but students might actually have a more difficult time getting it because the drug will be more regulated.”
Whether or not marijuana use on campus increases, school administrators said they plan to continue instituting policies that are in the best interest of Stonehill students.
“I always remind people when I have these conversations that Community Standards doesn’t say we just simply comply with whatever the state or federal law is,” Flynn said. “We do what we think is best for Stonehill as a community.”
White said this includes making sure students live up to their potential and avoid the hurdle drug use poses to getting a degree.
“When you choose to smoke marijuana,” White said. “An interruption of the educational process may take place.”
Marijuana use among students has been shown to contribute to engagement in a variety of behaviors that impede academic success, according to the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health’s report.
The types of behaviors that the study mentions include skipping class, spending less time studying, earning lower grades, and dropping out of college.
Flynn recognizes that the issue is going to continue to be a complicated one for the foreseeable future. He said it is difficult for administrators to come up with solutions to this contemporary issue.
“I can’t think of an issue like this in recent years,” Flynn said.
Although administrators will not be reconsidering the status of their marijuana policy because of the new state legislation, Flynn said the school could amend its policy if the drug were legalized federally.
“I think if the federal government did something different, we would definitely look at our policies,” Flynn said. “At the end of the day, I’m not sure what we would do, though.” White also said school policies could be amended if federal regulations change.
“If it’s legalized at the federal level, then maybe,” White said. “But that could be many years from now.”
However, Stonehill can still ban the use of marijuana on campus, even if the federal government allows it. Flynn said the school can be as restrictive as administrators see fit.
“We’re a private campus,” Flynn said. “What we allow to happen on our campus is up to us.”