By Samantha Phillips
The Youngstown State University Board of Trustees approved a resolution last month stating that YSU will enforce policies prohibiting the use of medical marijuana on campus, despite the state of Ohio legalizing medical marijuana in September 2016.
The December board meeting summary states, “… students who are legally authorized Ohio medical marijuana users and are living in university-owned or -managed housing may submit a letter with supporting documentation asking to be released from their university housing obligations.”
House Bill 523, which legalized medical marijuana in the Buckeye State, creates a conflict between state and federal law, because federal laws still prohibit using any part of a cannabis plant for medicinal purposes.
Cindy Kravitz, director of Equal Opportunity and Policy Development, explained that the university must follow federal laws to protect its federal funding, and they must establish and enforce clear policies on marijuana.
“If you don’t comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities and Controlled Substances Act, the university could lose all its federal funding, meaning grants, research money and financing,” Kravitz said.
Even in states like Colorado, where marijuana use is liberal, public universities still ban the drug so they can preserve their federal funding, she said.
Carole Weimer, board member, said other public universities are dealing with the conflicting legislations as well. She said she is concerned that students might wrongfully think people can smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons before getting a prescription.
“Because it’s a new law, there will be challenges in interpreting it,” she said. “We have to make sure it’s enforced appropriately. … We can’t have people standing outside Kilcawley smoking weed.”