The new marijuana law in the state could confuse students, but college officials say marijuana use and possession on campus is still a violation of Pierce College policy and is punishable by law.
According to college officials, even though state law has legalized marijuana, federal law considers the use and possession of marijuana illegal.
Since Pierce College receives federal funding, it must follow the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.
In Colorado, where marijuana use also is legal, college campuses are under similar policies and funding as Washington state.
Students, such as Hollie Stager, believe Pierce’s policy is sensible and reasonable.
“I don’t mind if someone wants to smoke pot in the privacy of their own home, but I’d prefer not to be sitting next to someone in class who is high.”
Anyone 21 years of age or older can possess and use marijuana recreationally, but it’s still unclear how people will have access to marijuana. Big name retail stores such as Walmart or Fred Meyer will not sell marijuana. Instead individual shops will sell marijuana, that is, if medical marijuana sales continue.
The laws surrounding possession of medical marijuana remains the same for patients as well.
Some students see the legalization of marijuana as a positive public service. Pierce College student Phillip Clayton shared his thoughts on the medical benefits I-502 presents for Washington state citizens.
“I’m looking forward to local stores selling marijuana because I feel it is beneficial to those in the community with chronic pain who can’t afford to see a doctor,” Clayton said.
The new law doesn’t make any sense because the laws remain the same, but a person’s rights are violated in the process if they are caught.
According to the Washington state Legislature, if someone is caught with more than the legal limit, five nanograms, of tetrahydrocannabinol in his system he automatically loses their right to defend himself in court. Even worse for individuals who have the legal amount on them because it gives the police the right to test their blood.
According to the 1970 Federal Controlled Substance Act, legally the taxing and distribution of marijuana doesn’t hold up in federal court.
Any taxing or retail distribution of marijuana would be classified as collecting illicit funds, also known as money laundering, with a minimum sentencing of five years in jail if found guilty.
Depending on how Washington state lawmakers work out the specific legalities of I-502 will rely on how law enforcement will continue to deal with the public’s use of marijuana, and how they will be able to accurately test and convict individuals of driving under the influence. So far, no such accurate test has been put in place that can determine how long ago an individual has smoked pot.
“To my knowledge, I-502 isn’t taking rights away from citizens,” Pierce College Puyallup student Will Bennett said. “There are some kinks in the laws that need looking into and some revisions, but I-502 got through one of the major hurdles in the process of decriminalizing marijuana consumption on a medical and recreational level.”
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