Pubdate: Wed, 01 Feb 2012
Source: Arizona Daily Sun (AZ)
Copyright: 2012 Arizona Daily Sun
Author: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services 


PHOENIX -- State lawmakers are moving today to deny university and
college students living on campus the right to use medical marijuana
even if they have the legally required doctor's recommendation for the

Legislation crafted by Rep. Amanda Reeve, R-Phoenix, would make it
illegal not only to use but even to possess marijuana on the campus of
any public or private post-secondary institution. That would include
not only the state university system and network of community colleges
but also various private schools that offer degrees or

And that means not only keeping it out of classrooms and open

HB2349, set for debate in the House Committee on Higher Education,
also would preclude students from using the drug in dorm rooms, even
if the person is drinking an infusion rather than lighting up a joint.
And it would mean not having the drug among personal possession for
use somewhere off campus.

"This is an attack on patients ... who are abiding by state law," said
Joe Yuhas, spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association.
More to the point, he said the move is illegal and vowed to sue if the
measure is enacted.

The 2010 initiative spells out a list of ailments and condition that
qualify an adult to seek a doctor's recommendation to obtain up to 2
1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

Yuhas, whose group represents those who crafted the initiative, said
the law was crafted to ban the use of the drug on public school
campuses. But nothing in the voter-approved law precludes adults who
have the legally required doctor's recommendation from using it elsewhere.

He said the Arizona Constitution specifically bars legislators from
altering anything approved at the ballot unless the legislation
"furthers the purpose" of the underlying measure. And this, he said
does not.

The problem, Reeve said, is federal regulations governing universities
require that they forbid students from having illegal controlled
substances. She said schools that do not comply lose federal funding
and financial assistance for students.

Regents spokeswoman Katie Paquet said those federal rules do have
exemptions for students who have prescriptions for otherwise illegal
drugs, including codeine and other narcotics. But she said -- and
Reeve agreed -- that's no help for a student with a state-recognized
doctor's recommendation.

"The federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits the possession, use
or production of marijuana, even for medical use," Reeve said.

And what of students who live in a dorm, who a doctor says can benefit
from marijuana?

"They're not going to be able to use or possess marijuana on campus,"
Reeve responded. "That's how we deal with the issue so we can stay in
compliance" with federal laws.

In any event, Reeve said the needs of a majority of students who
depend directly or indirectly on federal funds outweigh those of a few
students who need medical marijuana.

"Do we punish all the students so a few can have their ability to do
this?" she said. "Why should all the students suffer?"

Yuhas said Reeve and others are making too much out of this particular
conflict between state and federal law. He said the same conflict
exists elsewhere, yet Arizona is going ahead and implementing its
medical marijuana law.

"Universities aren't being asked to dispense (the drug) or host a
dispensary," Yuhas said. That, he said, would raise other issues.

Yuhas also brushed aside Reeve's concern that the federal government
is suddenly going to cut off aid to Arizona colleges and universities
simply because they do not actively ban students with medical
marijuana recommendations from having the drug, saying 15 other states
have similar medical marijuana laws.

"This has not been an issue," Yuhas said. "This is a solution in
search of a problem." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.