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2/2/2012 3:55:00 PM
AZ lawmakers craft bill to deny medical marijuana to college students

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- State lawmakers moved Wednesday to deny university and college students living on campus the right to use medical marijuana even if they have the legally required doctor's recommendation for the drug.

Legislation crafted by Rep. Amanda Reeve, R-Phoenix, would make it illegal not only to use but even to possess marijuana on the campus of any public or private post-secondary institution. That would include not only the state university system and network of community colleges but also various private schools that offer degrees or certificates.

And that means not only keeping it out of classrooms and open areas.

HB 2349, set for debate in the House Committee on Higher Education, also would preclude students from using the drug in dorm rooms, even if the person is drinking an infusion rather than lighting up a joint. And it would mean not having the drug among personal possession for use somewhere off campus.

"This is an attack on patients ... who are abiding by state law,' said Joe Yuhas, spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association. More to the point, he said the move is illegal and vowed to sue if the measure is enacted.

The 2010 initiative spells out a list of ailments and condition that qualify an adult to seek a doctor's recommendation to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

Yuhas, whose group represents those who crafted the initiative, said the law was crafted to ban the use of the drug on public school campuses. But nothing in the voter-approved law precludes adults who have the legally required doctor's recommendation from using it elsewhere.

He said the Arizona Constitution specifically bars legislators from altering anything approved at the ballot unless the legislation "furthers the purpose' of the underlying measure. And this, he said does not.

The problem, said Reeve, is federal regulations governing universities require that they forbid students from having illegal controlled substances. She said schools that do not comply lose federal funding and financial assistance for students.

Regents spokeswoman Katie Paquet said those federal rules do have exemptions for students who have prescriptions for otherwise illegal drugs, including codeine and other narcotics. But she said -- and Reeve agreed -- that's no help for a student with a state-recognized doctor's recommendation.

"The federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits the possession, use or production of marijuana, even for medical use,' Reeve said.

And what of students who live in a dorm, who a doctor says can benefit from marijuana?

"They're not going to be able to use or possess marijuana on campus,' Reeve responded. "That's how we deal with the issue so we can stay in compliance' with federal laws.

In any event, Reeve said the needs of a majority of students who depend directly or indirectly on federal funds outweigh those of a few students who need medical marijuana.

"Do we punish all the students so a few can have their ability to do this?' she said. "Why should all the students suffer?'

Yuhas said Reeve and others are making too much out of this particular conflict between state and federal law. He said the same conflict exists elsewhere, yet Arizona is going ahead and implementing its medical marijuana law.

"Universities aren't being asked to dispense (the drug) or host a dispensary,' Yuhas said. That, he said, would raise other issues.

Taylor Waste
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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Article comment by: Dave K

What a waste of state resources to pursue prohibition in search of a problem that does not exist. This legislation will fail when opposed in court for some of the same reasons that Horne and Brewer's lawsuits failed. They propose to fix a problem that is no more a real threat than was the fantasy of state workers facing federal prosecution. The intent is to alter a voter initiative. That is not permitted by our state constitution. This is a waste of time since the federal government has not found the schools to be out of compliance regarding medical marijuana. These same people now ignore those areas in education that are, at this time, deemed to be out of federal compliance. It is no surprise that our governor, attorney general, and our legislature fail to fix our real problems when they spend more time in fantasy than do those who are blatantly psychotic and delusional. On the other hand, this may be further proof that what they say is right... There is just no cure for stupid.

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012
Article comment by: Terry 420university

This policy is as absurd as banning all medications from campus. In the upcoming election, vote OUT the sponsors of these types of bills.

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012
Article comment by: 420 University

This is another example of the few, against medical cannabis picking and choosing which arguments to use (losing federal funding, will all 16 states lose all of their funding from the federal government? I don't think so) Why not make it a blanket rule that all medicines be kept off campus. This is as absurd as the legislation introduced. Its time to Vote OUT the legislators that are stuck in a Reefer Madness time zone.

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012
Article comment by: Yep, I knew Brewer had some more roadblocks up her sleeve!

Stop spending our taxpayers dollars to use the courts in aruguments when the state knows they will lose! No wonder we are broke!

The People hace spoken Brewer. This is OUR state, not yours!

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012
Article comment by: Jim West

Kind of makes me wonder what kind of proffet all these officals are making from keeping marijuana illegal. Things that make you go hummmmmmmmmm.

Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012
Article comment by: Carl Nye - Jerome

It shouldn't take a lot of research to find out if there are any schools or universities who have lost federal funding and financial assistance for students due to medical marijuana in any of the other states that allow medical marijuana. I challenge Reeve to name one instance where this has happened. Is Reeve suggesting that if one student at a university has medical marijuana on campus that all students at that university will lose their financial assistance? Can the feds really be so harsh as to cut off all federal funding to a school because one student has medical marijuana on campus? I find this whole situation ludicrous and most likely covertly initiated by Governor Brewer and Attorney General Horne's unrelenting drive to kill the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act in any way they can.

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