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Colleges in Massachusetts now join us California schools in our legal limbo status between the state and federal government.  All of us must follow the Federal Drug Free Schools and Community Act requirement of maintaining strict policies against the use and possession of illegal drugs; illegal drugs includes, under Federal law, marijuana.  So as far as I know, all schools have interpreted the legal environment to mean that state laws allowing marijuana are irrelevant.  Students may think they can smoke pot because they have a medical excuse, but on campus they can't.  19 states and the District of Columbia now have medical use.

Washington and Colorado went a step further by legalizing non-medical use.  Presumably the legal opinions for campuses there will remain the same: Campuses will still need to forbid marijuana. 

We should all be watching these developments carefully because there appears to be a clear trend.  Arkansas was the lone state with a medical marijuana initiative failing to pass (the South appears to be bucking the trend).  But pressure on the Federal government to recognize at least medicinal use will almost certainly come to bear in the coming years.  Campus policies will have to adapt should the Federal law recognize state regulation of marijuana.  Being ready with the model policies that fit state policies may make sense. But more importantly, being ready to help states craft sensible, public-health centered regulations could be Higher Education's most important contribution.

So this means...Having our voices heard now, before corporate interests get their hands freed by state ballot initiatives, may be our only chance to influence this process.

This article has been updated to remove reference to Montana's ballot initiative that also passed.  That initiative was a modification of already existing medical marijuana laws.