Marijuana laws are tricky.
At the federal level, marijuana is still illegal, both for medicinal and recreational uses. In some states, it’s legal to use medically, but not recreationally. And in others, it’s legal to use both medically and recreationally.
But even if marijuana is legal to use, it may be illegal to possess in large amounts, and it may be illegal for individuals to sell.
Any confusion you may have is completely understandable. But what are your rights if you are found with marijuana as a student?
What’s the deal in DC?
Washington, DC is a special case.
As the capital city of the U.S., it doesn’t have state laws to follow, and it has its own marijuana laws that are different from federal law.
The “too long, didn’t read” version of DC’s marijuana law is that it is legal for people over the age of 21 to use marijuana.
That being said, there are technicalities that need to be explained:
- Is marijuana legal for both recreational and medicinal use?
- Who can possess and use marijuana in Washington, DC?
- People 21 or older? YES
- People under 21? NO
- What happens to someone under 21 caught with marijuana by DC police?
It depends on how much of the drug they have on them.
If they have 2 ounces or more, they can be arrested.
If they have less than 2 ounces, the marijuana will be seized, but the individual will not be arrested or ticketed.
- Does that mean that anyone 21 and over can do whatever they want with marijuana?
Not quite. In Washington, DC, people 21 or older can:
- Possess 2 ounces or less of marijuana
- Give 1 ounce or less of marijuana to someone else who is 21 or older, as long as it is a free gift, with no payment of any kind
- Possess bongs, rolling papers, and other marijuana paraphernalia that allow for the use of 1 ounce or less of marijuana
- Use (smoke, ingest, consume, etc.) marijuana while on private property
- So, what CAN’T people 21 or older do in Washington, DC?
In Washington, DC, it is still illegal to:
- Possess more than 2 ounces of marijuana
- Sell marijuana to another person
- Drive a vehicle or boat while under the influence of marijuana
- Use (smoke, ingest, consume, etc.) marijuana in public spaces
So, marijuana is legal in DC. However, as mentioned earlier, it is still illegal under federal law.
That means a federal law enforcement officer can arrest anyone for possession or use of marijuana, regardless of:
- How old they are
- Where they are possessing or using marijuana
- How much marijuana they have in their possession
- Whether the marijuana is for recreational or medical purposes.
Colleges and Cannabis
Though marijuana is generally legal to use in DC if someone is 21 or older, it gets hazy if that person is a college student.
While a college student in Washington, DC who is 21 or older can legally possess and use small amounts of marijuana on private property, some colleges and universities still have rules against the use and possession of the drug.
So, if a 22-year-old college senior smokes marijuana on their own property, they cannot legally be arrested by a DC police officer. However, their college or university can still punish them, if their actions violate the rules of that institution.
These punishments are perfectly legal. As they are individual entities, every college and university can establish and enforce their own policies regarding drug possession and use.
Let’s take a look at the three biggest colleges in DC to see what their policies regarding marijuana are.
- George Washington University
Drug use and possession, including marijuana, is not allowed for any George Washington University students. Any student who uses marijuana will face disciplinary action.
Both medical and recreational marijuana use and possession is forbidden by the code of conduct.
The American University student conduct code does not allow unauthorized use or possession of marijuana by students. No marijuana (medical included) is allowed on university property, including residence halls.
Contact DC Student Defense if you’re facing penalties for marijuana
While marijuana is legal to use and possess in DC for people 21 or over, colleges and universities in the DC area are free to make their own policies regarding the use and possession of the drug. If you are facing penalties because of their marijuana use, you need an attorney with experience defending students to be in your corner.