With medical marijuana legal in 16 states (what's the hold-up, CT Gov. Malloy?) and Washington, D.C., gone are the days marijuana was considered something that only hippies did at a Grateful Dead show. But the federal government still considers marijuana to be terrifyingly-addictive and dangerous, and that's a problem for students on college campuses who use marijuana to keep pain and disease effects at bay during their studies.
Though it still retains its Schedule I classification within the federal government, doctors have come out in support of marijuana's therapeutic effects, and people across the globe are beginning to chant a little more in-unison about the power of this little plant.
Problematically, however, universities are caught in a conundrum; if they follow federal law, they deny students their medicine. If they follow the state law, they risk losing federal funding. And, well, when it comes down to people versus money, what do you think usually wins?
If you guessed money, you're right. According to an article on National Public Radio, University of Maine admins "say they sympathize, but they can't afford to violate the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug Free Workplace Act by allowing...student patients to use pot."
NPR describes how one of University of Maine's students, Robyn Smith, a veteran who was in Afghanistan for more than a year, was diagnosed with anxiety, a joint disorder, and has severe and frequent migraines. Smith was prescribed painkillers, migraine medicine and muscle relaxers, but he "says he doesn't like the way they make him feel," says NPR. "He also worries about becoming dependent on them. Instead, he prefers medical marijuana."
Smith takes small doses - usually at home or in his car that he parks across the street from the campus because of University of Maine's marijuana rules.
Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), told NPR that "if a student patient can have really dangerous and addictive drugs like Percocet, Vicodin and morphine, then there's no moral or pharmacological reason why they can't have a mildly psychotropic vegetable matter."
In April, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that banned marijuana on all college and university campuses. Arizona's ACLU took opposed the law, which restricts legal adults from legally using a state-legal medical substance.
The universities in Arizona, Maine, and in other states are afraid of losing Title IV funding, as well as research money granted to the universities by the federal government for different studies. Coincidentally, one college that's not afraid to lose their funding due to marijuana is the University of Mississippi, who grows marijuana at the request of the government.
Sadly, students like the University of Maine's Robyn Smith won't likely see a day where he can confidently bring his medicine on campus - which is just fine with him - he plans on taking online courses next year.
Meanwhile - if you're a college student and have been prescribed Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin or Xanax for a condition - relax! You're welcome to bring your medicine to campus, take it in class and drive home impaired. In fact, there's probably a couple of places on campus where you can buy a beer to make swallowing your pill easier. Go ahead - if it ain't marijuana, it ain't a problem.
This truly is higher education, people.