New England Student Defense
lawyer for college students in RI MA CT VT NH ME.jpg





By Jonathan Cook

Recreational and Medical Use of Marijuana Remains Taboo on College and University Campuses. Despite polls showing support for the legalization of marijuana topping 60% nationwide and Massachusetts and Vermont recently becoming the eighth and ninth state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana (joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington and the District of Columbia), students and parents should not expect any change in College and University zero tolerance policies. 

Due to Federal Prohibition, Marijuana, even for Medical purposes, remains illegal on most college campuses that receive federal funding

Marijuana Remains Illegal On Any College Campus That Receives Federal Funding 

Zero tolerance means cannabis in any form is illegal including plants, leaves, oils (vape pens) and edibles. Marijuana use, possession and cultivation remains illegal under federal law and under the U.S. Constitution, federal law trumps state law. Consequently, Colleges and Universities must comply with the controlled Substances Act (CSA), which criminalizes possession and distribution of marijuana, and the Safe and Drug Free Schools Act (DFSCA), which prohibits use, possession and cultivation of marijuana on College and University property and at College and University sponsored events off-campus. Every College and University is required to publish and enforce its policy in accord with federal law or risk losing much needed federal funding and financial aid for their students.

For example, UMass Amherst provides the following policy statement:   

"Federal laws require any institution of higher education which receives federal funding to have policies prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana on campus. The use, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes is therefore not allowed in any University housing or on any other University property. The University will continue to enforce its current policies regarding controlled substances, and any student who violates University policy prohibiting the use or possession of illegal drugs on campus, may be subject to disciplinary action." 

See UMass Amherst Code of Student Conduct at 13.

Like alcohol, you have to be 21 years old to use, possess or cultivate marijuana and it is only permissible on private property.

Additionally, students should beware that employers and landlords are allowed to promulgate their own prohibitions and restrictions.

Remember: although it is extremely important to hire an experienced Student Defense Attorney as early in Campus Disciplinary Proceedings as possible (as soon as a notice of charges is received, if not before), it is never too late. Whether a student has already been sanctioned and is in the appeals stage or even after an appeal has been denied, a lawyer with extensive experience representing and defending college students can offer invaluable help.

Jonathan Cook at New England Student Defense has represented over 150 students at Colleges and Universities nationwide from Yale University and Georgetown University to the University of Houston and Tulane University.  

These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Jonathan Cook