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Interesting article on Cannabis use in college

“We’ve been steeped in the alcohol model for so long, that if you’re an American, you drink,” said Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and pioneer in legalization advocacy. “If they were going to use something, it should be cannabis, not alcohol. It’s safer, but it’s also a much more interesting high.”

Campuses across the state bring in millions of dollars every year in federal funding. If federal drug laws are broken, schools are in jeopardy of losing that money, due to the 1989 Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. Hampshire, for example, receives more than $10 million in federal funding annually.

“It’s not that Hampshire College policy trumps state law; it’s that Hampshire College is supporting its students for the need for federal funding,” said Susie Mitton Shannon, associate dean of students and director of residential life at Hampshire. “We don’t want to put that funding in jeopardy in any way by trumping federal law.”

All colleges and universities that receive federal funding maintain the same stance: no recreational marijuana anywhere on campus, but policies vary.

Some are more out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Harvard specifies that students cannot use marijuana “on Harvard property or as part of a Harvard activity,” which does not extend to free time off campus. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology “does not restrict lawful possession and use of marijuana while off-campus” by those who can legally use.

In Cambridge, where the two schools are located, it is against the law to use marijuana in public. As more than 97 percent of Harvard students and more than 70 percent of MIT students live on campus, there are few places where a student can use without violating either university policy or city ordinance.

Other colleges take a no ifs-ands-or-buts approach. Williams College has a marijuana FAQ page that says cannabis “is prohibited for students entirely by our code of conduct,” on or off campus, recreational or not.

Some colleges come up with creative solutions. The University of Massachusetts Amherst explicitly restricts marijuana and associated paraphernalia on campus, but because a large percentage of students live off campus, it frames its message around safety and productivity. An extensive Web page lists ways to “have fun without marijuana” and reminds students to “keep on track to graduation.”

“From a health perspective, we’re concerned about both of those populations — students on campus and students off,” said Enku Gelaye, vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life. “We try to be upfront about what the issues are and give good information about what the law is.”