Adult-use cannabis legalization will take effect July 1 in Virginia, but state universities are revisiting their codes of conduct to ensure bans on student use and possession continue on their campuses.
Signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam on April 21, the legalization measure will allow adults 21 years and older to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis and grow up to four plants per household starting next month—a timeline that was expedited 2 1/2 years through the Democratic governor’s amendment package.
Virginia Tech in Blacksburg is the first university in the state to revise its student code of conduct in response to legalization, while other state colleges also plan to keep cannabis banned, The Roanoke Times reported June 13.
According to VT’s 2020 Student Code of Conduct, “Possessing, using, manufacturing, selling or misusing any substance and/or possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of state or federal law,” is prohibited on campus or at university-sponsored events off campus. Recently revising that section, the university’s update intends to make it clearer that it will be following the federal prohibition of cannabis.
VT’s policy is in line with other universities where state legalization measures are already in effect. According to Roanoke Times, schools are taking these stances because they don’t want to risk losing federal funding by violating the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which bans drugs on college campuses and public schools.
“In addition to state law, our policies must also be aligned to federal laws, too,” VT spokesman Mark Owczarski told the newspaper. “In most cases, state and federal law is similar or the same, which aids in the clarity of university policies. In this case, state and federal laws will have differences, and when that happens, we still to have to make sure our policies align to both, even though they are different.”
Other state universities in Virginia also plan to keep cannabis use and possession banned on campus to remain in compliance with federal law. Some university spokespeople told Roanoke Times their codes of conduct already clearly define on-campus use and possession bans, while other school officials said they are reviewing policy implications and whether changes or updates to their student handbooks are necessary.