Pubdate: Mon, 05 Oct 2015
Source: Corvallis Gazette-Times (OR)
Copyright: 2015 Lee Enterprises


The private recreational use of marijuana by adults in Oregon has 
been legal for months, and last week, you could start buying 
recreational marijuana at medical dispensaries that elected to join 
in on early sales of pot.

But Oregon's grand experiment with legalized marijuana won't have any 
effect on the state's colleges and universities, including Oregon 
State University.

College administrators last week emphasized that nothing has changed 
on campuses, even as people lined up at dispensaries to buy 
recreational marijuana.

That hard line for higher education makes sense, especially at 
universities like OSU that attract millions of dollars of federal 
funding for research. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, 
and no university is going to jeopardize one penny of its federal 
funding by easing up on its regulations on pot. (Besides, OSU's 
campus is smoke-free, and that presumably includes marijuana smoke.)

But this does underline the continuing silliness of the federal 
government's hard-line stance against marijuana. The feds still 
continue to regard marijuana as a Schedule I substance, the category 
reserved in part for drugs that have no currently accepted medical 
use, a designation that will surprise the thousands of Oregonians who 
use medicinal pot. (The state of Oregon, by the way, moved marijuana 
off the Schedule I list back in 2010, but that doesn't carry any 
water with the federal government.)

That hard-line federal stance explains why OSU also bans its 
researchers from doing any sort of work that physically involves 
marijuana. The university's policy is reasonably clear on this point: 
It prohibits research that "involves the possession, use or 
distribution of marijuana," unless that research complies with 
guidelines established by federal agencies - and we already know what 
the feds think about marijuana.

This, too, seems silly, and it gets sillier: The ban also prohibits 
OSU faculty members from performing research involving industrial hemp.

There's plenty of interest nationwide and in Oregon in growing 
industrial hemp, which has negligible amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol 
(THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. The fiber from industrial 
hemp can be used in paper, clothing, rope and for a variety of other 
uses. The United States is the world's largest consumer of hemp, but 
it still is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, which is 
ludicrous. (On a related note, those of you who haven't tried 
marijuana for decades but are curious should remember that today's 
pot has considerably higher levels of THC than back in the day, so be 

Back on topic: Considering the potential industrial hemp offers to 
Oregon farmers, it would make sense for OSU researchers to wade right 
in and work on the crop. But until the federal government rolls back 
its stance on hemp, you won't see that happen on campus. (The 
potential of hemp as an agricultural commodity, by the way, is one of 
the very few issues on which U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Rand Paul agree.)

As states move ahead on their own regarding legalizing marijuana, the 
federal government's stance on the drug increasingly seems like an 
outlier. In the case of the prohibition against industrial hemp, 
another word again comes into mind: It's just silly. The feds should 
get out of the way, and that process starts by decriminalizing hemp.
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