College to rewrite drug policy this year: Educational institutions across the state consider new medical marijuana law

By EMILY WILLIAMS ’16

Staff Writer

Wellesley’s drug policy will be rewritten by the end of this academic year. Although the College reviews the policy every other year, it has not revamped its drug policy since 2010. During this time, the review committee hopes to recruit two students to work with the administration during this process.

Last year, the state of Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana, but federal law still prohibits any use of marijuana. The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendment of 1989 require schools that use federal money to maintain drug-free campuses, regardless of state laws.

Colleges and universities everywhere will address this issue, but most will comply with the federal law in order to continue receiving federal funding to support financial aid. Bentley University has confirmed that it will be adhering to federal law, while Smith College is still considering its options.

“Strangely enough, it is not the focal point of this entire policy revision,” said Claudia Trevor-Wright, the assistant director of Health Education. “It puts colleges in a very difficult position because of the conflict in laws.”

Don Leach, assistant director of Residential Life, predicted that Wellesley would continue to prohibit the use of medical marijuana.

“I think the medical marijuana piece is important, but we’ll have to wait and see…Federal law tends to trump state law,” Leach said.

According to Trevor-Wright, marijuana is only one aspect of the drug policy.  The College has not determined repercussions for students using medical marijuana on campus. Currently, the College reviews drug policy violations on a case-by-case basis.

One senior, who asked to remain anonymous, was caught smoking marijuana for the second time and had her housing privileges revoked. Because she could not afford off-campus housing nearby, she was forced to take last semester off. She believes that the punishment for smoking marijuana is much too severe and disproportionately affects students from low-income backgrounds.

“It doesn’t really make sense to me that the college uses such strict rules against marijuana,” she said.”

The review committee is aware that the policy is vague, which can cause punishments to vary greatly from case to case. The College plans to simplify the language used in the drug policy so that it is more understandable.

“One major problem with the current policy is that it does not read well. Another is that it is not much read,” said Leach.

The review of the drug policy will follow the same process as last year’s review of the alcohol policy.

The review committee includes Leach, Trevor-Wright, Assistant Director of Group and Outreach Activities Megan Edwards, Chief of Police Phil Di Blasi and two students.

“We pride ourselves on making sure that this is not a top down hierarchical process,” Trevor-Wright said. “Any policy that relates so much to student life needs to have a strong presence of student voices.”

Although the committee has asked for student representatives, there has been little response from the Wellesley community. Trevor-Wright believes that this may be due to students’ reluctance to discuss illegal activities on campus. According to Trevor-Wright the committee will be able to provide a safe space for students to discuss drug-related issues.

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