With recent changes in Colorado Law, Mines has updated its Alcohol and Other Drugs Education and Prevention Policy. However, due to Mines’ status as a federal contractor, these new laws do not significantly change anything on campus. The Drug Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989 requires universities to have programs that prevent the use of illegal drugs on campus. However, the definition of “illegal drugs” comes from the federal government, not the state. This poses a major dilemma in Colorado.
Until recently, possession of marijuana was a crime in Colorado. Amendment 64 allows people 21 years and older to grow and possess small amounts of marijuana. However, this is only an amendment to the state constitution. Although the state has power in these matters, it cannot overcome federal law. Even though marijuana is legal in Colorado, the federal government says otherwise, as marijuana is considered a Schedule I controlled substance. Schedule I controlled substances have no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse. This is the highest designation a substance can have under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Thus, the federal government still classifies marijuana possession as a crime. Although President Obama has explained that the federal government will not pursue marijuana users in states where the substance is legal, the laws classifying marijuana as a controlled substance are still in the books.
The Colorado School of Mines is a federal contractor and must abide by federal law, and as a result, all marijuana is still prohibited from campus. This includes medical marijuana since the federal government does not recognize any medicinal uses for cannabis. Marijuana also has the potential to impair a student’s academic abilities and thus will not be tolerated on campus. However, current policies are under review and may be changed in the future.
For now, federal laws prevent any use of marijuana on the Mines campus, however, there are some efforts being made to change these laws. House Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) recently introduced a bill to declassify marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. Although this bill is unlikely to pass, it may be the beginning of change in Washington. As other states follow Colorado’s lead, Congress and the House of Representatives will need to act on this matter. Until then, the Colorado School of Mines must adhere to federal law and will continue to maintain a drug-free campus.