Binghamton University is continuing to enforce its policies regarding marijuana use on campus, despite New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent signing of a bill that legalized the drug for recreational use for those over the age of 21.
The University said its lack of policy change is due to its federal funding. According to a BU Dateline Announcement, federal law “requires any institution of higher education that receives federal funding to have policies in place that prohibit possession and use of marijuana on campus.” This is because marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, meaning it is not accepted for medical use and has a high potential for abuse.
According to the University’s Code of Student Conduct for the 2020-2021 school year, the University prohibits “possession, personal use or purchasing of marijuana,” as well as the “distribution of marijuana.” This includes both recreational and medicinal marijuana, even if a student has a medical marijuana registry ID card.
Linda Reynolds, college prevention coordinator of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Program (AOTD) at BU, is working with other offices on campus to educate students about the fact that the marijuana policies are not changing.
“Individuals who possess, use or sell marijuana and, in turn, violate the Code of Student Conduct will go through the regular student conduct process,” Reynolds wrote in an email. “Monitoring for marijuana and other drug use on campus has and will continue to be an important part of the work that staff, particularly in Residential Life, do. Additionally, [Binghamton’s New York State University Police (UPD)] will continue to be involved in situations where violations of the law have occurred.”
Reynolds explained that although there was recently a slight increase in marijuana referrals to the AOTD, the data does not show a significant increase in marijuana usage by students. The numbers remain consistent with previous semesters.
With this new law, the University is also intent on educating students about the misconceptions about marijuana use, according to Reynolds.
“The goal is not to scare students but to help them identify reliable information and to make informed decisions,” Reynolds wrote. “The marijuana industry is lacking regulation, and there is a great deal of variation in how individuals are affected by marijuana depending on what they use, how they use it and their own physiological makeup.”
Jen Steffann, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said she was understanding of the University’s policies remaining unchanged.
“I didn’t expect anything to change,” Steffann wrote in an email. “I would’ve been surprised if marijuana was allowed on campus.”
Steffann added that she expects marijuana use to increase, regardless of the restrictions still in place, during BU’s final rejuvenation day of the semester. The last Rejuvenation Day is on April 20, an unofficial holiday to celebrate and consume marijuana, also known as 4/20.
“I’m sure plenty of students will break the marijuana rules on our Rejuvenation Day on 4/20,” Steffann said.
Dinah Sedaghatpour, a sophomore majoring in economics, expressed their concern with the University’s rules.
“I find it odd that students with a medical marijuana license aren’t even allowed to use it on campus,” Sedaghatpour wrote in an email.
Leticia Fabene, a sophomore majoring in psychology and a resident assistant (RA) on campus, also expressed her dissent.
“I think people should be able to do what they want when they want as long as it’s respectful of others around them,” Fabene said.
Fabene offered insight into how dorm life will be potentially impacted.
“As an RA, we’re still figuring out what this policy is going to look like in the dorms, but we obviously want all students to be comfortable in their community, so I would imagine that there will be some sort of restriction within [Residential Life],” Fabene wrote.
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was signed into law on March 31, 2021. All SUNY campuses remain unaffected by this change of policy. If students have anymore questions about marijuana laws and effects, they are encouraged to check out the AOTD Marijuana FAQS website here.