The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Published 5/29/13 | Log In
SPU drug policy remains the same despite new law
By KALIE NELSON, Staff Reporter
Published: January 16, 2013
If some students were hoping for a university-approved high after voters passed Initiative 502 in November, school officials say that idea is up in smoke.
For starters, I-502 only approves the recreational use of marijuana for people 21 years and older, and marijuana users can only possess up to one ounce of the drug at a time.
Jeff Jordan, vice president for student life, emailed students last week reminding them that SPU’s Lifestyle Expectations bar students from using drugs that are illegal under federal law, including marijuana.
“The technical language in the catalog was changing, and I wanted to be upfront with students,” Jordan said. “It could’ve been interpreted in a different way, and I wanted to be clear and concise.”
Since SPU is a dry campus, most students didn’t expect any changes to take place because of I-502.
“[Marijuana] is everywhere,” sophomore Nicco Fortes said. “It’s nothing really new, so I don’t see why anything would change.”
“When state and federal laws conflict, federal law takes precedent,” said Jordan, referring to the federal law banning all marijuana use.
Seattle Pacific, like the University of Washington and many other universities, argue that relaxing drug policies could put them at risk of losing federal financial aid.
“One thing that’s important for our students is financial aid, which is a federal program,” Jordan said. “And there are several policies we want to keep in line with.”
“We checked with other schools in Washington state and some in Colorado,” said Jordan, referring to Colorado’s recent legalization of mairjuana. “Nothing is changing.”
In a December interview, President Barack Obama told ABC News’ Barbara Walters that prosecuting marijuana users in states that had legalized it isn’t a top priority of his.
However, Obama said he does not approve of changing federal law to permit pot smoking. Also, his administration has raided dispensaries in states like California, where medical marijuana is legal.
The president has also made no promises that his administration wouldn’t prosecute large-scale marijuana growers and distributers.
Junior Vanessa Ramos didn’t expect the use of marijuana to be an issue at SPU because of the new policy.
“People are doing what they’ve always done,” she said.
According to Jordan, there has been no increase in the use of marijuana by students since I-502 was approved.
“We saw the real increase about three or four years ago,” he said. “But that was also a national trend.”
Students who commit drug use offenses face disciplinary action.
“We are certainly not devoid of students misusing drugs,” Jordan said. “It happens.”
“We [still] need to pay attention to these because they are things that can cause a lot of harm,” he said. “The misuse of this stuff is problematic.”
“We want to help out students to be in the healthiest place possible,” Jordan said.