Medical marijuana is still prohibited on campus even if a dispensary opens in Kent.
Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substance Act. Schedule I substances are not accepted as a means for medical treatment and have a high probability of being abused, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“We have a requirement to abide by federal law,” said Todd Kamenash, the associate dean of students for conduct and community engagement. “With it being considered a controlled substance, the possession of marijuana is not permitted on campus.”
Even though medical marijuana is legal in Ohio, the university cannot permit the possession of medical marijuana on campus because of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. The DFSCA requires universities to prohibit the possession, use and distribution of illegal drugs and alcohol on campuses.
“A dispensary opening does not change the laws or policies on campus,” said Tricia Knoles, a community resource officer for Kent State University Police Services.
If caught in possession of marijuana on campus, students can face severe consequences.
“Typically, they are cited with possession and also referred to the Office of Student Conduct,” Knoles said.
Students must pay a $50 appearance fee to the Office of Student Conduct, Kamenash said. Student Conduct can also affect a person’s ability to receive an education at the university.
“Other universities don’t treat it nearly as harshly as Kent State. At Kent State, you can be expelled for it,” said Samantha Wyler, the president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
An anonymous student that is majoring in psychology and living on campus with a medical card to treat anxiety said that students should be able to consume cannabis if they have their medical marijuana cards.
“Federal law needs to be updated to allow those with cards to consume what they need,” the student said.
“Even though medical marijuana is legal (in Ohio), it is still illegal in a sense,” the student said. “I don’t want future employers to see my name and affiliate it with marijuana. Also, I don’t want personal friends and peers to associate my name with marijuana.”
The student requested and was granted anonymity to protect his image.
The student believes that allowing medical marijuana on campus would help students with certain medical conditions.
“I believe medical marijuana would help students on campus by reducing anxiety, helping with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental disorders,” the student said.
Off-campus students with medical marijuana prescriptions can legally possess and consume specific marijuana substances retrieved from dispensaries by following Ohio’s laws for medical marijuana.
“If someone is possessing an amount of medical marijuana above the legal limit, their medical marijuana card could be suspended or revoked,” said Michael Lewis, the administrative lieutenant at the Kent Police Department.
It is also illegal to smoke marijuana in the state of Ohio, Lewis said.
“If somebody is in possession of marijuana in any form, whether it be leafy vegetable matter, oil, vape or wax and they don’t have a medical card, they’re going to be charged with the appropriate charge for the possession of marijuana,” Lewis said. “It can range anywhere from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the amount of possession.”
A lot would have to happen for students to be able to legally possess and consume medical marijuana.
“It would take a federal-level change for marijuana to not be considered a controlled substance,” Kamenash said. “Then, we would look to our state and local guidance.”
The proposed dispensary Lightly Toasted is seeking approval of its location at 331 E. Main St. in Kent.
Gavin Mitten is a Reporter. Contact him at [email protected]