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Marijuana Legalization

Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana in California did not pass, and thus campuses have now avoided being placed in the awkward middle ground between federal Drug Free Schools and Community Act requirements and state liberalization. However, institutions of higher education still face this conflict with medical marijuana and it seems likely that similar efforts to legalize marijuana will reappear until successful.

Indeed, on January 1st, SB 1449 will take effect making marijuana possession an infraction punishable by only a $100 fine. This eliminates court appearances for those with an ounce of marijuana or less, and thus also eliminates a large percentage of court-ordered marijuana referrals to treatment.

Assembly Bill 9 of the special session is also still active and, if passed, will in fact legalize marijuana in more generous terms than Proposition 19 would have. So it behooves all of us to stay informed on the policy debates around marijuana, as it is an active area with many changes afoot. Ideally the prevention community and public health experts will become actively involved in shaping policy. Proposition 19 may have failed because it did not address important concerns; perhaps most importantly impaired driving. But in reality, we must improve marijuana impaired enforcement and prevention within the current decriminalized environment. Medical marijuana patients should not be driving impaired; nor should those who are factoring an occasional $100 fine into their marijuana budget. Even if the legalization pendulum of history has proven slower than some may have thought, Proposition 19 should be a wake-up call for all of us to actively seek solutions to the harms associated with marijuana use.


Propositon 19 readiness

Proposition 19, if passed, will significantly alter the drug environment in California. With the growing likelihood of passage, it is important that campuses are prepared to adapt.

Campus policy

There will clearly be a conflict between state and federal law should Prop 19 pass. Medical marijuana, in some ways, already makes this conflict exist. The problem for campuses is that they are subject to the Federal Drug Free Schools and Community Act. This ties all federal funds to certifying that the campus policy prohibits illicit drugs. Since the federal government will continue to view marijuana as an illicit drug, it appears that campuses must also. So schools may have little choice but to prohibit any marijuana both on campus or in connection with any official activity. Of course, the school has discretion on the sanctions imposed for violations, and they are free to change those as they see fit. If your campus is indeed maintaining a marijuana free policy, it behooves you to start communicating that to your students as soon as possible. Proposition 19 will take effect on November 3rd if it passes. Students may presume that on that day--if they are over 21--they will have the right to use and posses on campus (including within dorms). If that will not be the case, tell them now.

One more week to enroll!

There is still time to enroll in the free online course Marijuana prevention in a legalized environment. This six-week course explores public health issues associated with marijuana and seeks to review the literature that would speak to the implications of the liberalization of marijuana laws. Nine CHES continuing education category 1 contact hours are available for participants. Enrollment ends September 20. Visit the iPrevention Continuing Education Classes for more information.

Prescription Drug Take-Back Day - September 25th

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced that it is sponsoring a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on September 25th.  Sites will be open nationwide between 10 AM and 2 PM local times.  This will be a free service, with no questions asked.  Medications can be dropped off anonymously.

Given that prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing type of drug abuse on college campuses, participating in this event seems particularly important.  You can get more information by visiting the CADCA website.

Education opportunity on marijuana

A six-week online course focusing on marijuana abuse prevention within a legalized environment will be offered by Jim Lange, Ph.D. beginning September 20th. Here is a brief description of this free course:

Whether the current effort in California to legalize marijuana is successful or not, it seems ever more likely that California, or another State, will soon make that step. Indeed in many ways, medical marijuana has already opened the door to many challenges to traditional approaches to prevention. But with the apparently strong likelihood of passage, Proposition 19 forces the prevention field to grapple with substantial challenges. This course will explore the questions legalized marijuana will raise for prevention efforts, public health and health education and it will seek to identify as many research based answers to those as possible.

Application has been made to the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC) for CHES Category I continuing education contact hours (CECH)

Enrollment in this course will be conducted online through the iPrevention class platform. Watch this site for more information on this opportunity.